Synopses & Reviews
"What a holiday! No pestilence, no slavery, no locusts, no cattle disease or atonement. No synagogue, no guilt, no mortar, and no real lesson to be absorbed and passed down to my Jewish offspring. Thank God," writes Joshua Braff, one of eighteen Jewish writers who extol, excoriate, and expand our understanding of this most merry of Jewish holidays.
These essays, by Adam Langer, Tova Mirvis, Steve Almond, Eric Orner, and others, range from the comedic to the snarky, the poignant to the poetic, and includes such topics as the jealousy experienced in December when the rest of America is celebrating Christmas (we never get to join in the reindeer games!); the problem parents have dampening their children's desire for more presents (call it Greedikah!); and the weight gain associated with eating 432 latkes in eight nights (dayenu, enough!).
Whether your Chanukahs were spent singing "I have a Little Dreidel" or playing the "Maoz Tzur" on the piano, whether your family tradition included a Christmas tree or a Chanukah bush, whether the fights among your siblings over who would light the menorah candles rivaled the battles of the Maccabees, or even if you haven't a clue who the Maccabees were, this little book proves there are as many ways to celebrate Chanukah as there are ways to spell it.
"Despite a cheery title, the writers in this odd little holiday book tackle their subject-and its attendant traditions of family, guilt and, well, tradition-with ambivalence, a real sense of soul-searching and a bit of self-pity. Trying to make peace with their Chanukah memories, most of these writers are quick to point out its relative unimportance in the Jewish roster of holidays, inflated by its proximity to Christmas; still, their stories are clearly vivifying. There's a great deal of kvetching over the influence and excess of Christmas, and not just its consumerism; Jill Kargman, for example, writes about some casual mid-sermon anti-Semitism at a midnight mass. There's also solidarity to be found, as in Peter Orner's story of growing up in a family of 'Christmas-tree Jews': 'Let me be clear: we had no relationship with Christ beyond loving the mall like everyone else in America.' Standouts include graphic artist Eric Orner's 'Traditions Break,' a compact and involving story about a young woman's first Chanukah alone; Joanna Smith Rakoff's 'Dolls of the World,' an accomplished troubled-family tale; and Josh Braff's 'The Blue Team,' which happily extols, 'What a holiday.... No synagogue, no guilt, no mortar, and no real lesson to be absorbed and passed down to my Jewish offspring. Thank God.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Ring in the Holiday That Has a Special Place in Jewish Hearts...and Stomachs
Profound Questions! "Chanukah unearths a debate that's been going on for centuries. Yes, I'm talking about potato latkes: grated or mashed?" —Amy Klein
Telling Confessions! "Perhaps here is where I should mention that my 100 percent Jewish father was—and remains—obsessed with Christmas." —Jennifer Gilmore
Unlikely Revelations! "Shocker of all shockers, the first Jewish governor in the United States was elected in...Idaho! Swear." —Jill Kargman
Tender Recollections! "You are reminded of your real gifts: a family who you get to come home to." —Laura Dave
From the hilarious to the snarky, the poignant to the poetic, this collection of essays proves there are as many ways to spell Chanukah as there are ways to celebrate it.
What a holiday. No pestilence, no slavery, no locusts, no cattle disease or atonement. synagogue, no guilt, no mortar, and no real lesson to be absorbed and passed down to my Jewish offspring. "Thank God," writes Joshua Braff, one of eighteen Jewish writers— Adam Langer, Tova Mirvis, Steve Almond, Peter Orner, and others—who extol, excoriate, and expand our understanding of this most merry of Jewish holidays and offer up nervy, irreverent, and, yes, even nostalgic takes on a holiday that has a special place in Jewish hearts . . . and stomachs.
There are profound questions: "Chanukah unearths a debate that's been going on for centuries. Yes, I'm talking about potato latkes: grated or mashed?" (Amy Klein). There are confessions: “Perhaps here is where I should mention that my 100 percent Jewish father was—and remains—obsessed with Christmas” (Jennifer Gilmore); revelations: "Shocker of all shockers, the first Jewish governor in the United States was elected in . . . Idaho! Swear" (Jill Kkargman); and tender recollections: "You are reminded of your real gifts: a family who you get to come home to" (Laura Dave). And there's even a comic strip by Eric Orner, the mastermind behind Ethan Green.
From the hilarious to the snarky, the poignant to the poetic, this collection proves there are as many ways to spell Chanukah as there are ways to celebrate it.
About the Author
Emily Franklin is the author of The Girls' Almanac and Liner Notes and numerous novels for young adults. She has edited three previous anthologies, including It's a Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life in Your Twenties.
Table of Contents
Introduction: HanuChannuk Chanukah by Emily Franklin xiThe Blue Team
by Joshua Braff 1Creature Comfies
by Joshua Neuman 7Week at a Glance
by Elisa Albert 21Chanukah Your Hearts Out!
by Steven Almond 39The Guinea Pig
by Jennifer Gilmore 43The Only Dreidel in Idaho
by Jill Kargman 61Rock of Ages
by Jonathan Tropper 77Traditions Break
by Eric Orner 95Oak Street, 1981
by Peter Orner 119Dolls of the World
by Joanna Smith Rakoff 123Chanukah Glutton
by Tova Mirvis 151My Peaceful and Glorious Brothers
by Edward Schwarzschild 161Oh, Lord. Oh, Lourdes. Alors!
by Mameve Medwed 175My Father's Menorah
by Adam Langer 187An Israeli Chanukah
by Amy Klein 203Presents!
by Ben Schrank 215The Light, the Sword, and the Nintendo DS
by Karen E. Bender and Robert Athony Siegel 223Eight Nights
by Laura Dave 237