Despite Odds, Felt Menorahs are Back to Light Up Hospital Rooms
For Jewish patients who find themselves in the hospital during Hanukkah, lighting a menorah with real flame is not allowed for safety reasons.
Deborah Cantor Edelman (Debbie) and her husband, Larry, would “light” battery operated Shabbat candles every Friday during Debbie’s hospitalization for Leukemia treatment. For Hanukkah, they found a felt menorah. It not only allowed them to observe the holiday tradition by adding a Velcro-backed candle each night, but it also turned into a great conversation starter with doctors, nurses, aids, and technicians. Debbie and Larry were able to share the meaning of the Hanukkah miracle with many others.
After Debbie passed away in 2018, as a tribute, Larry and daughters Rachel and Andrea started the Debbie Cantor Edelman Felt Menorah Fund.
“The fund’s dollars go towards the purchase of felt menorahs to give to patients spending Hanukkah in area hospitals,” Larry said. “The goal is to help spread Hanukkah’s message of hope to other Jewish patients while they are experiencing a difficult time in their lives.”
But this year, it appeared the program might be in jeopardy.
When Larry reordered the menorahs for 2022, the company he worked with said none were left in any of its warehouses, and it hadn’t received restocking in the last two years.
Just a few weeks before the holiday, Larry suddenly received 250 menorahs from the company, and just before that, he explains, “I was able to secure 250 menorah craft kits designed especially for children. To boot, The Dreidel Company made a generous donation toward that first set of children’s menorahs.”
In what feels a bit like a modern-day supply chain miracle, Jewish patients at a growing number of hospitals will receive felt menorahs this year thanks to the fund: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Saint Peters University Hospital, Centra State Hospital, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, University Hospital in Newark, and others in North Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.
The Debbie Cantor Edelman Memorial Fund is enthusiastically supported by Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ so that more people in the Jewish community may find hope and comfort in the spirit of the holiday. To support the project, go to jewishheartnj.org/debbie-edelman-fund and to inquire about setting up various types of funds through Federation, contact Federation at