There are times in one’s life when one recognizes a calling larger than themselves and that is what One More Candle is. My name is Jacquie Seipp and this is One More Candle’s story.
It begins 10 years ago at Yom Kippur High Holy Day services while remembering the Shoah (Holocaust). The story of the ninety-three girls caught me in a way that I had not felt before. The story is that ninety-three girls chose to take their own lives rather than allowing their bodies to be used and desecrated as sexual objects for Nazi officers. Their last plea was “all we ask is, say Kaddish (prayers) for us. For all ninety-three, say Kaddish.”
The weight of the request was overwhelming and grew as each year passed. What to do? And how to do it? There are 1.5 million children and more, who were slaughtered, the majority of them along with their families. If I could get people to light a candle for each of the murdered children of whom we have information about, then we would be able to honor the death wish of the 93 girls.
So the thought of One More Candle began.
That was Step One.
When something is right it flows easily. I ran the idea past my Rabbi. He thought it was a wonderful idea. That gave me some encouragement. Upon realizing that the idea was valid, I opened myself up to saying it out loud. As it happens, I had the good fortune of meeting Yaron Ashkenazi, who, at the time was the Executive Director, and Klara Romm, who had been the Chief Operating Officer, of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem in Toronto. After a very brief sharing of the idea, Klara asked me to follow up with a general overview of what this adopt a memory project would look like. The idea found great acceptance from both of these wonderful people.
That was Step Two.
Next, my question was “how am I going to get this done?” The concept seemed to be well received, but how does it get done? By no accident, I met Chris Yaren, a mover and a shaker of all things forward thinking. More acceptance and more reinforcement!
Sadly, my Mother passed away in January.
From sad things, good things can happen.
While visiting during Shiva (first week of mourning) Chris stopped by, along with others. Having a captive audience, I shared my thoughts with them all. Suddenly the room was alive with excitement.
Discussions ensued, ideas flew. My husband Todd suggested later, that if the idea was a football, it could not have been tossed around more quickly. Possibility of funding, future goals, involvement through synagogues, schools, and what steps to take to make it a reality… DIVINE TIMING!
That was Step Three.
It sounded possible… I could almost see it. I let the idea form, and reform in my mind. Yet I had not done anything to make it happen.
My husband and I had attended an incredible one man play, Wiesenthal, by Tom Dugan.
The story is about an ordinary man who acted extraordinarily to bring light to the darkness of the Holocaust. Mr. Wiesenthal always had a sunflower on his desk as he searched for the murderers of 6 million Jews. It was a constant reminder of the senseless murder of millions, and why he needed to do what he was doing; reminding the world and bringing the perpetrators of the genocide to justice.
At each show’s end, as he slowly leaves the stage, he takes the sunflower, and gently hands it to one in the audience.
Receiving that sunflower broke me. I knew that One More Candle was bashert (meant to be), and that I, an ordinary woman, have been divinely given an extraordinary task.
One More Candle was born in April 2016.
The opportunity to give form to memory shadows and the recognition of lives lived with joy and happiness who were torn from their futures, is what One More Candle is all about. The fact is that these children lived, loved the twinkle of stars, splashed in puddles, heard birds sing, smiled and laughed at dancing butterflies – and their light was extinguished by hatred, lies, and Xenophobic misconceptions.
With the help and encouragement of the aforementioned people and the many people that this idea was bounced off of, the memory of 1.5 million children, including the ninety-three girls, will be honored.