Today in Tablet Magazine, we excerpt from Natan Sharansky’s Fear No Evil. The Soviet refusenik (and now a prominent Israeli) recalls celebrating Hanukkah in the Gulag:
On the sixth night of Hanukkah the authorities confiscated my menorah with all my candles. I ran to the duty officer to find out what had happened.
“The candlesticks were made from state materials; this is illegal. You could be punished for this alone and the other prisoners are complaining. They’re afraid you’ll start a fire.”
I began to insist. “In two days Hanukkah will be over and then I’ll return this ‘state property’ to you. Now, however, this looks like an attempt to deny me the opportunity of celebrating Jewish holidays.”
The duty officer began hesitating. Then he phoned his superior and got his answer: “A camp is not a synagogue. We won’t permit Sharansky to pray here.”