Sunday, January 17, 2016


We all have a destiny . . . if we’re patient enough to wait until just the right time to shine. 

A new little star is given a very important mission to lead Wise Men to the birth of a special Child but is told this will not happen for a long, long time. The independent and impatient young star must withstand personal doubt, the taunts of older stars, the long stretch of eons, and the silence of the Galaxy. When it had just about given up, the little starburst into its predicted brilliant glory and led the Wise Men and others to the miracle in Bethlehem. 

Once upon a time a Christmas Star was born into the Universe. The Galaxy said its name was the Star of Bethlehem and although the smallest star in the Universe, its purpose was to shine brighter than any star ever on the night a Savior is born. Three Wise Men would travel with gifts for the child in a time of great danger and will need to see its light to find him.

The Little Star didn’t think its purpose sounded important enough. In fact, it wanted a different job—any other job. It wanted to be part of Aquarius, Gemini, Leo, or Orion. However, the Galaxy disagreed and said that the Universe is depending on its cooperation. For two thousand years, it will shine at half its light. Then at the appointed time, it will shine brighter than everything in the night sky. The Bethlehem Star tried to wait patiently for Christmas Eve.

As two thousand years passed, he thought the Galaxy had forgotten him. Even when the Little Star inquired of the Galaxy, there was only deafening silence. The Bethlehem Star withstood other stars’ taunting about shining at half its light, doubting it would ever shine fully. Tears dropped from the Bethlehem Star all the way to earth, creating reservoirs of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Orion once tried to take his job, saying a comet, a planet, an angel, or even a shooting star should shine for Christmas Eve—much better choices than the dim Little Star.

More years passed. The Little Star tried to force itself to flicker just a little brighter, even if it hurt to do so, but all its efforts were for naught. Then just when the Bethlehem Star was sure it had lost its chance for a miracle, the Galaxy spoke louder than before. It said the Little Star, not Orion, would shine over the Bethlehem manger where the Child was resting. As midnight approached on the first Christmas Eve, the Bethlehem Star suddenly lit the night sky. It was so bright that nearly everyone in the world could see its glow, but especially the three Wise Men. All at once, a great company of the heavenly host appeared, singing in the sky with hallelujahs. The Bethlehem Star was so excited to finally be shining. Even the angels could see how the legendary star shined so bright on Christmas Eve that the rest of the stars were amazed beyond belief. For as long as time lasts, everyone in the Universe will have heard of the Bethlehem Star and its luminous beauty.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Man From the Synagogue: The Story of Coral Graf and a Lesson in Manna and Mitzvahs

“Dad, I’m going over to the Synagogue to talk to Rabbi Hillel about the power of small miracles,” Coral said.

“I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you,” Mr. Graf said, heading out to his deli. “I sent him a box of bagels the other day.”

He grabbed his spring sweater as Coral gathered her tin can with overflowing pennies from The Man Upstairs.

Before Coral put the can in her backpack, The Man Upstairs dropped another handful of coins through the heating vent. 

“Don’t forget these pennies!” Mr. Graf said, scooping up the coins from the floor and handing them to Coral. 

“If he asks you to meet The Man Upstairs, it might be better that the Rabbi just say a prayer for him . . .”

“Since he’s the Rabbi, I thought I’d tell him about the miracles that have been happening with the pennies,” she said.

“I’m sure you’ll have a nice talk, but don’t be disappointed if he doesn’t understand,” Mr. Graf said. “Not everyone gets pennies from The Man Upstairs, because not everyone would give them away to see miracles, Coral.”

“I’ve never kept one single penny, Dad,” Coral said. “I’ve been giving everything away. It’s the only way to do good!”

As Mr. Graf locked the door of the New York City apartment behind them, he stared at his daughter with awe.

“Not everyone has enough faith for miracles to happen,” Mr. Graf said. “I personally think you are a miracle, Coral!”

“Thanks, Dad, I love you and Mom,” Coral said, marching down the stairs to the New York City street.

“You should stop by and say hello to your mom at the Empire State Building during lunch,” Mr. Graf said. 

“I’ll try to stop by after talking to the Rabbi. I could ride the elevators up and down for hours,” Coral said. 

When Coral arrived at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, she swung open the doors and tiptoed into the Rabbi’s office. 

“My name is Coral Graf. I’m here to see Rabbi Hillel,” Coral said to his assistant, placing her pennies on his oak desk. 

“Do you have an appointment?” the secretary said, pushing her glasses back on her wrinkled face. 

“Why do I need an appointment?” Coral said. “The Rabbi talks to God, and I want to talk to the man who talks to God.”

“Usually, you have to get on the calendar, but I’ll see what I can do to make an exception,” the secretary said. 

She walked into the Rabbi’s office with a yellow pad of paper, returning minutes later with a tired smile. 

“The Rabbi has five minutes to see you,” the secretary said, sitting down at her squeaky, rolling chair. 

“God must have a lot to say to the Rabbi if he only has five minutes to talk to me. I might need ten,” Coral said. 

As Coral walked in the Rabbi’s office, he breathed deep and exhaled long and hard, as though he needed a nap. 

“Now what can I do for you, Coral? Your father sends such nice desserts from his deli,” the Rabbi said. 

“I wanted to tell you about the pennies that I’ve been getting from The Man Upstairs,” Coral said, sitting on a chair.

“Oh, well, what is it that you wanted to tell me about them?” the Rabbi said, shuffling a stack of paper on his desk. 

“Well, they come through the heating vent, clickety clank, and drop into my tin can, and they keep coming as long as I give them away to do good in the world. If I don’t give them away, then I don’t get any more pennies,” Coral said. 

She dumped her tin can of pennies on the Rabbi’s desk. “These pennies are for you and the Synagogue,” she said. 

“It’s just enough to start a chain reaction of small miracles that create bigger miracles!” Coral explained. 

“Why, thank you!” the Rabbi said. “Please tell The Man Upstairs thank you as well. What is his name?”

“The Man Upstairs! His name is The Man Upstairs,” Coral said, stacking the pennies for the Rabbi. 

“My, my, my, you have quite an imagination, don’t you? Although I’m still unsure as to who The Man Upstairs is exactly, I’m sure we can put your pennies to good use around here,” the Rabbi said. “It’s almost like when the Israelites received manna from God in the desert. They only ate the manna that they gathered that day. If they kept it for more than a day, worms crawled all over it, except on the Sabbath. Then it lasted two days.”

“What an interesting story!” Coral said. “I wonder what manna tasted like. The food at my dad’s deli is probably better.”

“Yes, that’s true. It tasted like wafers with honey” the Rabbi said. “So, you’re giving your pennies away to do mitzvahs?”

“Mitzvahs? What is a mitzvah?” Coral said, eyeing the open Torah that sat on the Rabbi’s desk. 

“A good deed, like feeding the poor, acting kindly to a stranger,” the Rabbi said. “Your actions show what you believe.”

“Maybe you could talk to God about this for me?” Coral said. “I’ve been trying to give my pennies to the right people.”

“I’m sure you’re doing a good job. Your imagination is just wonderful,” the Rabbi said, looking at his watch. 

“My imagination is wonderful, but so is The Man Upstairs,” Coral said. “He gave me enough pennies to make small changes in the world, even if no one notices them at first.”

“I’m so glad to hear that has been happening,” the Rabbi said. “Now remember to keep the Sabbath. I really have a lot of work to do today.”

“Sure, I understand,” Coral said. “Let me know what you do with the pennies . . . it’s just like they came from heaven.”


Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Sequel to "The Man Upstairs: The Story of Coral Graf and Pennies from a Tin Can" (1/3/15), "The Man Downstairs: The Story of Coral Graf and Her Missing Pennies" (7/13/15), "The Man Next Door: The Story of Coral Graf and the Neighborhood Pennies" (8/5/15), "The Man Across the Street: The Story of Coral Graf, a Hanukkah Miracle, and the Landlord with a Cigar" (9/10/15), "The Man Around the Corner: The Story of Coral Graf and a Homeless Cardboard Box" (9/10/15), and "The Man from Central Park: The Story of Coral Graf and a Bike Ride on a Spring Day" (10/4/15).

Dedicated to my grandmother, Augusta Renner Graf Waters. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Musical Time: The Story of a Metronome Who Wants to Make Music

“I want to do more than click and tick all day! Music! I must make music,” Galileo the Metronome said. 

For hours on end, Galileo sat on Cadence the Composer’s piano, keeping time with his pendulum-swinging arm. Cadence turned him on and off, adjusting Galileo’s beats per minute, depending on the piece he was writing.

“I can’t take this anymore! You are only using me for my fixed rhythm,” he said to the Composer.

“You are such a necessity! You have no idea how lost I would be with your steady tempo,” the Composer said.

“No one plays music at an exact tempo. I can’t even align myself with your expressive pieces,” Galileo said. “Strings! I want the strings of a violin on my neck! So, someone can play melodies through me . . .”

All at once, Galileo threw himself off the side of the piano onto the floor of the Composer’s home. 

“Oh no! My lovely Galileo!” Cadence said, gathering the scattered pieces. “What will I do with you now?” 

Cadence gathered the shattered and broken metronome and placed his pieces in the trashcan beside the piano.

“I’ll have to stop by The Music Store for a new metronome tomorrow, maybe one with blinking lights,” he said.

Meanwhile, Galileo’s parts were tossed throughout the wastepaper basket. “Oh, I ache worse than ever . . .”

In the morning, when the composer’s son, Winkel, found the Metronome’s pieces, he glued them back together.

“Well, you’ll never click like a metronome again, but maybe I could make you into an instrument,” Winkel said. 

Winkel pulled and plucked four strings across Galileo’s neck. Then he tightened them to exact pitches—E, A, D, G. 

“I’ll finally be able to make music!” Galileo said. “It was rash but jumping off the piano was for the best.”

By the time Winkel had reconstructed Galileo into a tiny violin, Cadence replaced Galileo with a new metronome.

“One day you’ll be known as rare as a Stradivari violin,” Winkel said, constructing a separate bow for Galileo.

“Please, play me!” Galileo said. “Don’t wait! Sounds waves will start from the friction of the bow on the strings and carry to the bridge. The bridge will send the vibrations through the instrument, and then we have music!”

As Winkel placed his bow to Galileo’s strings, the former metronome made music and has never stopped since.


Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters