The Light

"Captain, there's a message coming in from Admiral Black," Hoshi Sato announced.

"On screen," Captain Jonathan Archer said.

"No, wait. Sir, the Admiral says it's private."

"Oh. Well, in that case, I'll take it in my Ready Room. Thanks," Jonathan walked into his nearby little office. "Okay. Sir, what's the trouble?" he asked, once Admiral Black's familiar face appeared on the screen.

"I'm afraid I've got some bad news, Jonathan."


"Yes. It's about one of your youngest crew members. Crewman Shapiro's had a death in the family."

"Oh, well, that's unfortunate, but I'm not following you."

"You should tell him personally."

"Can't his family?" Jonathan would do it but he didn't love such chores.

"No, it has to be done as soon as possible, as this is a news story that's going to break, and soon. Better for Shapiro to hear about it from someone he trusts, than via the news wire," The Admiral said.

"Well, uh, I guess so. But still, why can't his family tell him?"

"It's Saturday afternoon on Earth. They won't use communications until sundown. Which is around six hours from now."

"Oh. Huh, interesting."

"The deceased's name was Rachel Orenstein. She was his great-aunt," The Admiral said.

"News story, huh?"

"Yes. She lived to one hundred and twenty-seven, breaking all previous records. Her death is a news story for sure."

"Ah, now I see," Jonathan said, "I'll take care of it. Archer out."

The line went dark. "Ensign Sato," he punched in another communication. "Get Crewman Shapiro in here, please."

"Yes, sir."


Ethan Shapiro was nervous, and combed his thick black hair with his fingers a few times. "You, uh, wanted to see me, sir?"

"Sit down. And, uh, you're not in trouble, Crewman."

"Oh, whew. Thank you, sir."

"Shapiro, I, I'm sorry to inform you, but your great-aunt has passed away."

"Oh. Well, that wasn't exactly unexpected," Shapiro said, "I take it my folks didn't call because it's Shabbos?"

"Uh, I suppose so," Jonathan said, "Are you, we can drop you at a Starbase, you can be back for the funeral."

"No, sir. I can't. We always have them in only a few days. So it'll most likely be tomorrow. But there's a, when the gravestone is carved, it's unveiled. And that's its own ceremony. It's in, uh, usually a few months after a death, maybe five or six months later. I'd like to be able to go to that ceremony, sir."

"Yes, yes, of course. And, uh, Crewman, if you feel the need, take the rest of the day off. I'll inform Lieutenant Reed."

"Thank you. Sir?"

"Yes, Crewman?"

"I'd like to, I feel I should say Kaddish. It's our mourning prayer. Is it possible to get in touch with Rabbi Benson?"

"Yes, of course. I'll have Ensign Sato contact her."

"Thank you."

Back in his quarters, Ethan paced a little to pass the time. There was a chime. "Come in," he said.

"Crewman, I'm sorry to have heard the news," Lieutenant Reed said, "If there is anything that I can do, you'll tell me, won't you?"

"Yes, sir, of course. I, you know, I guess when someone is that old, it's so expected. I dunno. It's not that I don't care but I guess I'm not as deeply affected."

"I suppose that's understandable," Reed said, "You cannot say that she was too young. One hundred twenty-seven! It boggles the mind. Think of the things she saw. Did she speak with you about them at all?"

"Sure, sometimes. Told me about the times before warp drive. Things weren't doing so well on Earth. But she and my Uncle Murray, they had a little farm and they just, you know, they did their best."

"Did your aunt have any children?"

"No. So my Mom and my Uncle Stewart were like her kids, and my sister Angela and me, we were kinda like she'd had grandchildren of her own."

There was another chime. "Come in," Ethan said.

It was Andrew Miller. "Hey, man, I heard. That's rough. Oh, hi, Lieutenant Reed."

"I'd better go," Reed said, "Remember, take whatever time you need."


The door safely closed, Miller asked, "So, uh, did you get to talk to the Starfleet Rabbi yet?"

"Not yet. I'm trying to figure out how we're gonna get a minyan."

"Well, there's you and me, and Bernstein," Miller said, "And Rosen. That's it, right?"

"Right. No other Jews on board."

The computer chimed. It was Hoshi. "I have your Mom for you. And, Ethan, I'm sorry to hear about your, your grandmother, was it?"

"Great-aunt. And, thanks."

Linda Shapiro smiled wanly at her son, across the light years. "It's been quite a day. I think I've talked to every news service in the solar system when I should have been resting. How are you holding up, sweetie?"

"I'm doing all right, Ma. The question is: how are you?"

"Oh, you know me. I'm just doing what needs to be done. Your father's made all the arrangements, and Angie is going to be here. Sorry you won't be able to make it."

"I'll get in for the unveiling, Ma, I swear."

"Good. Oy, I'd better go. It's this and then Chanukah. You'll remember to light candles, right?"

"Yes, Ma, of course."

"And talk to that nice girl Karin once in a while."

Ethan smiled. "Ma!"

"Uh, hi, Mrs. Shapiro," Andrew said, coming close to the screen.

"It's a shonda, so few Jews on board," she said, "Andrew; you'll call your mother for Chanukah, right?"

"Uh, yes, of course," Andrew reddened.

"Ma! Andrew's already got a Jewish mother. He doesn't need a second one."

"I worry," She said, "Look, all kidding aside, I'm very proud of you. And Aunt Rachel was, too. I love you."

"Love you too, Ma," Ethan closed the channel.

"What was that all about?" Andrew asked.

"Oh, now that I'm a sophisticated man of twenty-three, she's trying to set me up with Bernstein. Only Jewish girl on the ship," Ethan explained.

"Ha, my mother's trying to do the same. I bet Rosen's Mom is, too."

The computer chimed again. It was Hoshi again. "You up for talking to Rabbi Benson, Ethan?"

"Sure. Bring it on," he said.

Rabbi Benson's image filled the screen. She was a woman of about forty. "I'm glad you reached out to me, Ethan. The news wire is full of stories. Your great-aunt was what we call a Woman of Valor. Do you know the hymn?"

"Yes, of course I do," Ethan said, "Her price is above rubies, right?"

"Some translations say pearls but, yes, same difference," The Rabbi said, "You are, you need to say Kaddish, you know."

"Yes, but there aren't enough of us here for a minyan," Andrew said.

"The Torah can count as one man," The Rabbi said, "But that's still not enough, yes?"

"That's correct," Ethan said, "There are only four of us. So that leaves us five shy."

"Well, this question has been debated by scholars already. There are two ways to go and they are both acceptable for every sect except for Orthodox. You're a Conservative Jew, right?"

"Right, Rabbi."

"Very well," she said, "When Starfleet was established, this question was decided, as Talmudic scholars determined that there could be occasions when Kaddish would have to be said but a Jew would be, perhaps alone, or with no means of communicating with other Jews. So, you can pray with a quorum, a minyanpartly composed of Jews who are linked via communications - such as we are linked right now. Or you can enlist the help of non-Jewish friends for this specific purpose. Either way will work."

"I'll, um, I'll think about it. Can you conduct a little service remotely?" Ethan asked.

"Sure," Rabbi Benson said, "Just tell me when."

The communications channel closed.

"You know we'll stand with you, man," Andrew said.

"Yeah, thanks, pal. And then there's Chanukah. Huh. I was never as frumas my folks but I do like to celebrate it. I just wonder if it's in bad taste, given what's happened."

"Hey, I heard your Mom. She said you were to go ahead and light candles. I bet your aunt would've wanted it that way. So light the damn candles in two nights."

"Yeah, you're right."

The four of them sat together at dinner. Josh Rosen looked at his tray. "Hmm. Chicken cacciatore. I think. It's not Mom's cooking, I'll tell ya that."

"Your mother is probably not a four-star chef," Karin Bernstein pointed out. "I happen to like Chef's cooking. It's so much better than what we got at the Academy last year."

"At least this doesn't have to be fixed up in order to be kosher," Ethan said.

"Well, it's all the same to me," Andrew said, digging in.

"You don't keep kosher, eh?" asked Josh.

"No. I'm halfsies," Andrew explained between bites. "Mom's Reform Jewish; Dad's Presbyterian. No kosher laws and separate dishes in my house. Plus I get both Christmas and Chanukah."

"Spoiled brat!" Karin said.

"I'm just a chunk of diversity, all wrapped up in one neat little package," Andrew said.

"Did you guys get eight presents when you were kids?" Josh asked. "Er, pass the pepper."

"Sure. And, here you go. But my folks dropped that when I was six or so," Ethan said, "Probably getting to be too complicated."

"Yeah, I think I was eight when that happened," Karin said.

"I was five," Andrew said, "Also found out there was no Santa. It was not a good December."

"Awwww," Karin said.

"Well, I haven't quite recovered yet," Andrew said, smiling at her.

"I think you'll be all right," she said.

"Guys, uh, can I be serious for a sec?" Ethan asked.

"Sure, bro," Josh said.

"I wanna do a service; you know, say Kaddishand all, tomorrow night. Okay?"

"Yeah, of course," Karin said, "Just tell us where to be."

"Uh, my quarters. Nineteen hundred hours, okay?"

"You got it," Andrew said.

The next morning, after breakfast, Ethan spotted Hoshi. "Can, um, can I ask you a favor?"

"Why, sure," she said, "Walk with me, I gotta get to the Bridge for shift."

"Oh, yeah. Uh, can you read Hebrew?"

"I'll muddle through," Hoshi smiled. "Is this about your, your aunt?"

"Yes. I'm going to, um, I'm gonna hold a little service for her tonight. In, in my quarters. With, uh, other people. This is not, like, a date I'm asking you out on or anything," Ethan visibly reddened.

Hoshi smiled. "Don't worry about it. I'll be there."

Seven PM rolled around. Nineteen hundred hours. Ethan was in his best dress uniform, with a yarmulkeon his head. Karin and Andrew arrived first. "How you doin'?" she asked, kissing Ethan on the cheek.

"Better now. Good to be with friends. I, I got some people coming to help out."

The door chimed, and Karin busied herself letting people in.

"Do you like her?" Andrew asked.

"Her? Huh, not the time or the place, bro."

"No, I guess not. Just, I, uh, tomorrow night, Chanukah? You better make your move if you're gonna. 'Cause if you don't, I will."

Ethan smiled. "Go for it. As if you needed my blessing."

Hoshi stood next to Malcolm. Then Karin, Andrew and Josh stood together in Ethan's tiny quarters. The door chimed and Ethan answered it. It was Captain Archer. "I brought a few friends. I understand you needed ten people," He said, and let in Commander T'Pol, Dr. Phlox and Crewman Hamidi.

"Oh, hi," Ethan said, a little taken aback. "Azar, do you know Josh? I think you know Karin and Andrew."

"Yes, of course. Engineering, right?" asked Azar Hamidi. "And, I'm sorry for your loss. I can't read Hebrew, but it can't be too different from Arabic, I figure."

"Not too different," Hoshi said, "Here, let me get the channel for you," She fiddled with the computer's controls. "There."

Rabbi Benson was on the little screen. "We are here to say Kaddishand to mourn Rachel Orenstein. Ethan, do you wish to say anything?"

"Yes, thank you. My Great-Aunt Rachel saw a lot in her long life. She went from an Earth where people could barely get it together to seeing us go out here into the unknown. She used to tell me it was a little like wandering in the desert for forty years. You know, you're not sure where you're going, but you trust that wherever you get is going to be good. And I think it's been good. And I'm glad she got a chance to see that. She was like a link to the past. And now it's time to, to say good-bye and look to the new. Rabbi, I'd like to say Kaddish now."

"Yes. Yis'gadal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo, amen ...," began Rabbi Benson.

"Thank you, Rabbi," Ethan said when the prayer concluded. "My aunt would have wanted me to celebrate Chanukah tomorrow. So I'd like to wish you and yours a Good Yontif."

"Good Yontifto you. Benson out."

"What happens next?" asked Jonathan.

"Well, usually we eat something. But I think we can forego that," Ethan said.

"Tomorrow, use the Observation Lounge for your celebration," Captain Archer suggested.

"And, um, feel free to come, everyone," Ethan said, "I, I'm not much of a host. But I do want to thank you all for caring enough to do this. So if I can, um, if I can repay it with a few latkes tomorrow, well, I hope you'll come."

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Azar said.

"Do you have everything?" Karin asked Josh.

"Yeah. Chef made latkes and there's sour cream and applesauce. And somebody wanted ketchup. Ugh."

"That would be me," Karin said.


"I eat ketchup on matzoh brei, too. Wanna make something of it?"

"Uh, no, that's okay," Josh said, "Oh, and check this out," He produced a small pouch and emptied its contents onto a table.

"Holy cow!" Karin exclaimed. "You got dreidels!"

"Yep. My Dad sent them over from Mars. But I don't have any geltto bet with."

"Oh, I think we'll think of something to use," she said.

Ethan arrived. "I got the menorah. And I got candles," he said, placing them on the table. "You'll do the honors, tonight, Miss Bernstein?"

"Yes, of course, Crewman Shapiro, if we're being oh so formal this evening," she smiled.

"We don't have gelt," Josh complained.

"That's okay. Maybe we can bet on the dreidel game with latkes," Ethan suggested.

"If I lose, someone will eat my latke," Karin complained.

"Then don't lose," Josh said.

Andrew came in. "A moment, lady and gentlemen!" he announced, and then went to the nearest computer. "Ensign Sato, if you please," Music began to play through the computer's speakers. "You want a party, you got a party. Andrew Miller won't let ya down."

"This is contemporary stuff," Karin said, her hand cocked on her hip.

"So? I got other stuff. Don't worry. You'll get to dance a hora, Missy."

Azar arrived. "I didn't realize this is a gift-giving holiday," he apologized.

"Oh, no problem," Ethan said, "We're all grown-ups here. No need."

"Well, I brought this," Azar said, producing a jar of Iranian olives. "Got 'em the last time I was on Earth."

"Oh, these will be great!" Karin gushed. "Here, um, can you open this?"

"Allow me," Andrew said, doing the deed.

Ethan turned away, smiling. "What does that mean?" Azar asked.

"He gets to be gallant. Oh, man, he's gonna be insufferable."

"She's a pretty girl," said Azar. "So why not be insufferable?"

The Captain arrived with friends in tow. "I'm afraid I didn't get a chance to read about Chanukah at all," He said, "You light candles and ...? What else?"

"Well, oh good, everyone's here," Ethan said, "It's the Festival of Lights. It's because, uh, well, a few thousand years ago, after the Maccabees defeated the Syrians, the big Temple was desecrated. And the thing is, we have what's called an Eternal Light."

"Ner Tamid," Hoshi said, "That's it in Hebrew, right?"

"Right," Karin said, "And we have to keep the flame burning at all times."

"A lot of cultures have ongoing lights as a cornerstone of their faith," T'Pol explained. "It is a compelling image for many species."

"Yes," Josh said, "But the Temple, it was unclean. Non-kosher animals had been slaughtered in there, so it was all messed up. And it would take eight days to get it all cleaned up. But there was only one vial of pure oil for the eternal lamp, and it would only last for one day. Plus it would take eight days for more pure oil to be produced."

"So our, our ancestors," Andrew continued, "they took a chance and poured in the oil anyway, and they prayed that it would last. And it, it did. For the eight days needed to get the Temple cleaned up and more oil purified. Which is why we have Chanukah in the first place, and why it lasts for eight nights."

"And every year, this time of year, when it's cold and dark on Earth, we remember, and we celebrate Chanukah. We take a bigger candle called a Shammos, and we light it, and we use that one to light the other candles. One on the first night, two on the second, etc.," Karin said.

"And then on the last night, all nine branches are ablaze," Ethan said, "Tonight's the first night, so it'll only be the Shammosand the one other candle."

"Is it time to light them?" Malcolm asked.

"Yes. Karin?" Ethan asked.

"Baruch atah adonai..," she began.

Once she was done, Ethan said, "People like my Great-Aunt Rachel, they considered all of the holidays to be important. Chanukah isn't even the big one. But it's big enough for tonight, and it's big enough for friends. Because it's like, it's like a star being ignited. It's all about the light."

"Anybody wanna dance?" Andrew asked.

"Sure thing," said Karin.

A singer on the song system sang, "Ushavtem mayim b'sason, mimainei hayeshua..," while Andrew and Karin joined hands and started to dance in a circle. "C'mon, it's easy. You just kinda skip and then every few steps you turn backwards, like this," Karin said, taking Hoshi's hand as Josh and Ethan joined.

"Oh, what the hell," Jonathan said, "Not a word of this to Starfleet Command," he said.

"I won't tell if you won't, sir," Malcolm said, getting between Hoshi and Karin.

"Mayim! Mayim!" They clapped together. "Mayim, mayim b'sason!"

"Whew!" Hoshi said when the dance was finished. "I don't think I need to go to the gym tonight. That song's about water, right?" she asked Ethan.

"Yes, something about water in the desert, I think."

The ship moved a little more, and Dr. Phlox looked out the observation window. "Look. There's your light, Crewman," It was a small star that had winked into view.

Everyone stopped what they were doing to take a look. Andrew quietly put his arm around Karin's shoulder. He looked over at Ethan. "Great party, bro."

"Thanks. I think Great-Aunt Rachel would've had fun, too. Happy Chanukah."