By: Deborah Apeloig
Hope your first night of Chanukkah was a beautiful experience with your loved ones. Tonight is a super important and inspiring night for us, since the Apeloig Collection Chanukiyah debuted. After almost 3 years of research, design and development, we and many other happy customers were able to light it today!
While we were remembering the story of this new product, a very cherished family memory came to life, and it starts with our maternal grandmother Ghitta (Z'L). We have mentioned her in previous posts, she is like an angel for us. We didn't have the privilege to meet her in person, since she died at a young age. Our mom and everyone else who met her, has the same description: she was the kindest, most beautiful and generous woman, living up to her name (Ghitta in yiddish literally translates to good in female form).
A couple years after she died, our family decided to donate something meaningful in her memory, so our uncle Rafael, who is an architect with a great artistic talent, designed a Menorah monument with bronze, stained glass and an electric system to "light the candles" during special events. The memorial Menorah was hung at the entrance of the events hall at the family synagogue, it brought light and embellished this place for decades. Time passed and we moved to a different synagogue, the events hall was sublet to a contractor who was not a member of the community, and he decided to move all of the artwork to the storage room. Many years later, Rafael receives a call from the synagogue, saying that they would get rid of everything that was stored, since they needed the space. He went to pick up the memorial Menorah, found amidst pieces of junk and broken glass, and gave it to his blacksmith of trust for restoration.
Our uncle Rafael and our mom Sylvia, started offering the newly restored memorial to different Venezuelan Jewish community institutions: schools, synagogues and organizations, with no interest to be found. But this didn't stop them from their mission of shedding light through their mothers' memory. Finally, they found a response from Hebraica, the most concurred institution for the Venezuelan Jewish Community: it is the place that houses the Jewish Day School and the center for sports, cultural and social activities (the ultimate JCC). They were renovating some areas, but couldn't find a good wall to host the memorial Menorah. Rafael proposed: "what if instead of installing it on a wall, we build a pedestal for the Menorah to stand by itself and be exhibited at an exterior space? That way, the light will go through the stained glass and it will make the colors and transparency stand out." Everyone thought it was a great idea, and afters lots of meetings, proposals and consultations (you know how hard it is to make jewish people agree on something), our family decided to donate it, this time in memory of both our grandparents Ghitta and Elias Schloser (Z'L) who had passed away a few years before. Our uncle, mom, and our older cousin Nataly (who works with Mosaic Art) worked together to restore the glass parts, with different techniques. We were young back then, that's why we didn't take active roles on this story, but remember some fragments, specially the inauguration ceremony at the Community Center.
A generous donation to keep making Hebraica the amazing place it is got the Menorah a prime location, and it has been shining its own light for the last 15 years. Our Family Memorial Menorah has become an iconic symbol of the Institution that holds the Venezuelan Community together till this day, as you can see on the pictures below. It was even made into small replicas as an award to recognize the community work of board members and employees.
The message behind this story is focused on perseverance: Sylvia and Rafael didn't rest until they saw their mothers' memorial at a place that deserved to hold her blessed memory, and after knocking on different doors, insisting and flipping the design, finally found the perfect place where it belongs.
We learned by example; at Apeloig Collection, we have also been super persistent in the pursue of our Menorah: the design and development process took us more than two years, full of challenges and limitations that some times made us think of quitting, but we didn't. This Channukah we launched our gorgeous, multifunctional Chanukiya, and the response from our customers has been spectacular! It went out of stock very quickly.
We know that Ghitta, as the angel she is, has been admiring and guiding all of the hard work from both generations, rewarding us with great outcomes.
Have a Happy Channukah and may you and your family shed light through hard work, mitzvot and persitence to fulfill your dreams.
Deborah Apeloig - the other sister :)