Aug 18, 2015
Shabbos Essay Contest Revived

Jewish Girls Unite and The Lubavitch Women's Candle Lighting Campaign have joined forces to re-launch a writing contest for Jewish girls first instituted by the Rebbe.

Jewish Girls Unite, the safe online community for Jewish Girls at and the Shabbat Candle Lighting Campaign of the Lubavitch Women’s Organization (LWO) have joined forces to launch a Shabbat Candle Writing Contest for Jewish girls ages 6-18.

Founded in 1974, the (LWO) Candle Lighting Campaign's mission is to spread the Lubavitcher Rebbe's message that all Jewish women and girls can add light to the world by lighting Shabbat candles every Friday.

The motto for Jewish Girls Unite is "Shine Your Inner Light" and offers girls a safe online platform to express their good deeds, creativity and talents. "Our missions match perfectly," says Nechama Laber, founder of Jewish Girls Unite.

In 1977, the Rebbe asked Mrs. Esther Sternberg, director of the Shabbat Candle Lighting Campaign, to run a writing contest for girls in order to gather entries for a book about Shabbat candles. The first book was published in 1977 and had illustrations by artist Michoel Muchnik.

In 1979, Mrs. Sternberg was paralyzed (temporarily) and wasn’t able to walk. There is verse that says, "Ner L'ragli Mitzvosecha" - which means, "Your words of Torah guide me like a candle to prevent my feet from injury," so she announced a second candle lighting contest (with a prayer for good health), and did not think about publishing a book.

One day her husband came home with a message from the Rebbe. "Publish the second part of the book – even before Rosh Hashanah." The answer came out at the end of the summer, not leaving very much time to produce a book, only a few weeks until the High Holidays.

Mrs. Sternberg immediately called her friend who worked in Camp Emunah and asked her to put together a selection of writings from the girls on the subject of lighting Shabbos candles. And the book was published before Rosh Hashanah.

The Rebbe received the first copy of the book and responded with gratitude and satisfaction, and Mrs. Sternberg soon recovered.


This book is called, "A Candle of My Own" and also includes photographs of Jewish girls lighting candles. Ironically, it includes a photo of Nechama Laber at the age of five. Over the years many remarkable stories have taken place with these books and Nechama Laber has her own personal story that occurred 22 years after the book was published. The story was printed in the L’chaim Magazine in August 2001.

"We are thrilled to reignite the Rebbe’s contest and work together with the Jewish Girls Unite team to promote Mivtza Neshek - candle lighting to Jewish girls around the world using the tools of modern technology. We are excited to launch our third Shabbat Candles Writing Contest and publish the compositions on the online platform," said Mrs. Esther Sternberg.

Contest Details:
Attention all girls 6-18

Enter the SHINE YOUR LIGHT WRITING CONTEST by writing an essay, article or poem about Shabbat Candle lighting and submit on!

The top three winning compositions will be presented at a Jewish Girls Unite Virtual Rosh Chodesh Celebration. The winners will receive Shabbat jewelry and art and all the entries will be get published on

Contest deadline: October 18.

Please view and share this incredible Shabbat candle lighting video produced by the participants at the Jewish Girls Retreat for this contest.

Read Nechama's story printed in the L'chaim Publication in 2001:

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
Love it!!!
I miss JGR!!!!! Thanks to JGU i can still be in touch and keep up with the girls, even across the world!! Thank you Nechama!!
(8/18/2015 10:03:03 PM)
The video is beautiful!!
Great idea!!
(8/19/2015 9:56:26 AM)
I've heard so much about "A Candle of My Own". Any chance of reprinting it?
(8/20/2015 12:13:23 AM)
What's Your Opinion? Post a Comment

Your Comment:

Comments must be approved before being published. Thank You!

Make COLive® your homepage | Contact Us
© 2018