When Middlewoods of Farmington resident Barry Gordon’s grandparents fled from Russia, a Russian priest who had befriended them gave them nun’s clothing for a safe escape. Other than that, the only things they took with them were candlesticks and wine cups as they sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Not liking New York too much, his grandfather moved the family, including Barry’s mother and uncle, to Hartford. It was in Hartford in 1908 where his grandfather purchased a brass Menorah that has been passed down through the generations.
The Menorah was given to Barry’s parents in 1944 when his mother’s mother was ill and it was time to pass it on. His mom would read by it every Hanukkah, and Barry has fond memories of receiving a penny the first day, a nickel the second day, a dime the third day, and then a quarter, fifty cents, a dollar, and two dollars, until the eighth day, when he would receive a present. These eight days represent the miracle of the eight days when their meager supply of oil burned for the Israelites. The tradition is to cook foods in oil on this holiday, and Barry’s mom would make latkes (potato pancakes), but he would also fry donuts for his kids when he had his own family. In 1958 Barry’s mother gave him a Menorah pipe for Hanukkah because she didn’t want him smoking cigarettes.
In 1963 the Menorah was given to Barry and his wife Betsey when they got married. He has since bought one for each of his children. He has also decided that his special 110-year-old Menorah will be passed down to the first grandchild to get married. What a wonderful way to continue a beautiful and meaningful tradition!
Middlewoods of Farmington Independent and Assisted Living Community is affiliated with the UCONN Health Center and is located at 509 Middle Road in Farmington. The award-winning community is owned and operated by United Methodist Homes, a local, not-for-profit, mission-based organization based in Shelton, CT. For more information about senior living at Middlewoods, please visit www.middlewoodsoffarmington.org or contact Ginny Brown at 860-284-5700.