November 2023 From the author’s desk…

7 November, 2023 in From the author's desk

The Jewish community in Bath prepares for the festival of Hanukkah in two weeks time, as it did all those years ago.


Scrubbed and brushed, Yann sat between Sebastian and Ruth, who because of the occasion, was wearing a red woollen dress instead of her usual uniform. The silver menorah was unlit on the table in front of them. Yann wore a small beautifully embroidered white yarmulke, a Chanukah present from Sebastian, the skull cap given many years ago to Sebastian by his mother for his first Seder night. Amanda McKendrick remained dressed in her sober work clothes and quietened the room.

   ‘The youngest member of our little community, Yann Morris, is now going to light the Chanukah candles.’

   Ruth struck the match and lit the taper in Yann’s hand. The room was silent as Sebastian recited the first blessing. Then, To Ruth’s amazement, and without a pause, Yann took up where Sebastian had finished.


            ‘Baruch atah adonai eloheinu Melech ha’olam she’asah

            Nisim la’  avoteinu bayamim haheim baz’mahn hezeh

            Blessed are you, our God, Creator or time and space,

            Who performed miracles for our ancestors in the days

            Of long ago. And in this time.’


   As Sebastian recited the last of the three prayers, Ruth guided Yann’s young arm with the lighted taper to the candles.

   ‘That was the secret, Mummy. Happy Chanukah,’ he said, hugging her.

   The tears came.

   ‘What’s wrong Mummy, why are you crying?’

   ‘Nothing is wrong darling, it’s the most wonderful present I have ever received, and sometimes people cry because they are happy.

   She kissed Sebastian’s cheek. ‘Thank you so very, very much Sebastian.’ She couldn’t think what else to say, but knew that Jancek too would have been overwhelmed by their son’s performance. She was more determined than ever for Yann to achieve what his father would have wanted for him.

   ‘It was a pleasure Ruth,’ Sebastian replied, ‘he is a wonderful little boy. This is only the beginning.’


An extract from chapter sixteen  –‘ Go Swift and Far – a Tale of Bath’ The first book of The Westcott Chronicles

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