menorah book 88.
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Menorah Under the Sea
By Esther Susan Heller
32 pages; $17.95
It might not have been possible to light it, but David Ginsburg's colorful hanukkia fashioned from sea urchins certainly captures the imagination. In Menorah Under the Sea, Esther Susan Heller tells the story of Ginsburg's Hanukka experience while working as a marine biologist in McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
On the day before Hanukka, Ginsburg wondered how he would light a hanukkia in a place that never became dark. Donning his dry suit, dry gloves, hood and face mask, he plunged into the freezing dark water with his diving buddy. On a flat shelf, he arranged eight pillars of sea urchins, then a ninth for the shamash. He then placed sea stars on top of the stacks. "'Nobody move,'" he told them as he photographed them. "Except for the shamash which kept sinking, they were very cooperative."
That night, as the sun still shone, he lit a hanukkia with the other scientists.
Illustrated with photos instead of drawings, this book is a refreshing change from the regular happy-family holiday fare. At the end, Heller, who lives in Safed, provides information about sea urchins, McMurdo Station and Ginsburg.
Preteens will be challenged by the language, as well as being introduced to the idea of celebrating Jewish holidays in unconventional circumstances.
By Linda Glaser
Illustrations by Daniel Howarth
Albert Whitman & Company
24 pages; $15.99
Perhaps because there are no religious restrictions attached to this holiday, everyone in this country - religious, secular, young and old - seems to celebrate it. Very young children will be delighted to discover that in this book, a family of bunnies observes the holiday just like they do. Bright, cheerful illustrations illuminate how this rabbit family lights the candles, spins the dreidel and eats crispy potato latkes, reinforcing customs children may have learned in a way that is easy for them to relate to. My daughter had just as much fun watching how the rabbits' ears flopped and flew as hearing the Hanukka story.
Hanukkah Around the World
By Tami Lehman-Wilzig
Illustrations by Vicki Wehrman
48 pages; $16.95
This book is not a single story, but a collection of tales, facts and recipes from around the world. With an introductory section about the laws and customs of Hanukka, the book shows how the holiday is celebrated in different parts of the globe, from Modi'in to Tunisia to Sydney. Alongside a fictional story set in each location, author Tami Lehman-Wilzig explains the history of Jews in that part of the world, also providing simple, traditional recipes (with the bizarre exception of a New York blizzard drink for Sydney). This is a volume that can be dipped into rather then read from start to finish, and the information about world Jewry will interest readers at any time of year.
Grandma's String of Pearls
By Ofra Stanger
Available in English and Hebrew
Illustrations by Shlomi Nahmani
Translated by Janice Silverman Rebibo
34 pages; NIS 65/$18
One day, Grandma's holiday string of pearls broke and scattered everywhere. Over the course of the year, her granddaughter Noam helps her find the pearls - each time in a place that draws attention to the Jewish calendar. In Tishrei, the first month of the year, the pearl "twinkled and winked" in the honey jar while Noam's mother was making a honey cake; in Kislev, when Hanukka falls, the gem was hiding in a pitcher of oil; and in Nisan, she happened upon the pearl in a goblet of wine during Pessah. In this way, author Ofra Stanger helps acquaint young readers with the Hebrew months, introducing them to the seasons and Jewish holidays as they too search for the missing pearls.
The English version suffers from an inconsistent meter at the beginning of the book, but this soon gives way to lilting rhymes.