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World Religion
Rachel Sees the Light



Rachel Sees the Light
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.96

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bondage, cozier, infant, interfaith, musky, rededicated, sugar-studded, upright, union, shivered, menorah, synagogue, religion, marked, moonlight, latkes
     content words:    Messianic Jew


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Rachel Sees the Light
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Rachel breathed in the musky air. Black pools of shadows stood in the corners. A thin river of moonlight came in through a tiny window, and flecks of dust danced like fairies in the light. Rachel shivered in the cool darkness. She flicked the lamp switch on. Now the attic didn't seem so strange!
 
2     A gleam of gold caught her eye. She saw the menorah on a box. It was heavy and old. Beautiful patterns covered the candlesticks. The box it sat on said "Hanukkah." Rachel's dad was a Messianic Jew, and her grandmother had given him the menorah when he married Rachel's mother. It was an "interfaith marriage." Rachel's mother was Catholic. Both families had been concerned about the union. Rachel had heard the word "interfaith" for her whole life. She got tired of it!
 
3     Next to the Hanukkah box was another box. It was marked "Christmas." On the top of that box was a crystal candle holder. At the base of the candle was the figure of the infant Jesus in a manger. The crystal sparkled in the moonlight. The candle holder was from her mother's family.
 
4     Rachel's parents did their best to teach her about both faiths. It was confusing. One year, they celebrated Christmas. The next year, they celebrated Hanukkah. Rachel knew the Hanukkah stories about how the Jews rededicated the Temple. She also knew the stories about Jesus, and how he was born in a stable. Angels attended him. She loved the fat, hot latkes (potato pancakes) that they made for Hanukkah. She also loved the sugar-studded, crisp cookies in the angel shapes that they made for Christmas.
 
5     Rachel sighed. She looked out the attic window. Red, blue, green, and yellow lights sparkled along the roofs of the houses. Soft colors glowed on the snow as though bottles of food coloring had just tipped over into the white drifts. The gentle sound of Christmas carols drifted up from the street. Rachel had mixed feelings about having two religions. In one way, it was fun. In another way, it was confusing. Sometimes, she wished she just had one religion. She never knew what to say when people asked her where she went to church.
 
6     To her surprise, a tear rolled down her cheek. Its saltiness sneaked into the corner of her mouth. It was embarrassing to have to explain her situation. Her friends didn't understand. They never knew what to expect at her house. She never knew which church or synagogue they were going to go to for which holiday. Rachel wanted to be normal!
 
7     "Rachel, did you find the menorah?" her mother called. Her mother did her best to follow all the Jewish traditions.
 
8     "Yes, mom," Rachel said. She tried not to sound sad. Her voice came out choked and thick anyway.
 
9     "Honey, what's wrong?" her mother said. She appeared at the top of the attic steps. She had strawberry blond hair tied into a ponytail. Wisps of hair escaped their rubber band bondage and curled around her concerned face.

Paragraphs 10 to 19:
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