Shammas: The One that Lights the Others

by Janet Ruth Falon (Elkins Park, PA)

The one that lights the others
leads them out from darkness.
It must be fully on fire itself, first,
before performing its feat of illumination.
It has to stand tall
and withstand the fire from below, and
by not wilting, but waiting
to be certain that all the others have caught on.
The shammas is the ice breaker,
the first to start a conversation,
the one to ask for a dance
(like Nachshon of the first step).
The shammas is the grunt,
the blue-collar worker,
the one who builds the foundation,
the one who makes the rest possible.
As we stand by the light of the menorah
let us thank each shammas in our life
who has freed us to shine
and let us aspire, each, to be a shammas
and enable others to reveal their light
and glow.

Janet Ruth Falon, the author of The Jewish Journaling Book (Jewish Lights, 2004), teaches a variety of writing classes — including journaling and creative expression — at many places, including the University of Pennsylvania.  She leads a non-fiction writing group and works with individual students, and is continuing to write Jewish-themed readings for what she hopes will become a book, In the Spirit of the Holidays.


Filed under American Jewry

2 responses to “Shammas: The One that Lights the Others

  1. Julie Cohen

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful poem, Janet, and for being a Shammas to many!

  2. How do you explain that my last name is Shammas and on my paternal side I am Lebanese with possible Greek roots?

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