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"I wanted lighting the hostage's candle [to be] a meaningful prayer rather than just a generic prayer," says Sandy Waislitz.

Candlemaker Sandy Waislitz.
Candlemaker Sandy Waislitz.

In the first week after October 7, Sandy Waislitz was frustrated as to how she could raise money and awareness to help Israel.

“The leaders in our community were saying, ‘Come Shabbat, light a candle for the hostages,'” Waislitz recalls.

She had just started making candles around that time and came up with the idea of making them instead of lighting them. When she saw the posters of the kidnapped hostages being put up everywhere, the idea of creating individual candles for each of the hostages came to mind. “I thought this way a person could buy a candle and personally identify with the hostage,” she said.

“I wanted lighting the hostage’s candle [to be] a meaningful prayer rather than just a generic prayer.” Waislitz found someone who could reduce the photographs on the posters to the size of her candle holder so together with the wax, wicks, the glassware and an Instagram page she got started.

“Despite my background in marketing and product management, I didn’t market my Light Up With Hope candles very much; it was more word of mouth.”

The community got behind the initiative and started to gift them and light them on Shabbat. Within 10 days she had raised and donated $5000 for the UIA Victims of Terror fund.

Waislitz is still making candles because people continue to support her. She did a small run of Chanukah candles which, “were very popular so I am now working on Pesach candles”.

She suggests gifting the seder host one of her handmade Pesach candles. The money raised is now donated to a grassroots organisation in Israel called One People Israel, who use the funds not only to help IDF but to protect people. Whether that’s local communities who were all of a sudden exposed, or the IDF that needed helmets or special types of gear.

“I donated $10,000 during January and February this year to One People Israel. When people stop wanting candles I’ll hang up my boots. I am still getting orders … which is fabulous because we can’t forget about that situation. I committed early on that for as long as people want to support and pray for the hostages, I will keep making my candles.”

When the first round of hostages was released Waislitz received messages from some of her customers: “My hostage is out.”

“It was a personal connection in a spiritual realm that flows between all of us which is what I was hoping I would achieve,” she said.

Candles cost $18 each at

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