Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Festival of Lights, Hanukkah

On this third night of Hanukkah (or Chanukah), the Festival of Lights, we've enjoyed reading In the Month of Kislev: A Story for Hanukkah by Nina Jaffe and illustrated by Louise August with woodcuts painted in full-color oils on paper.

This beautiful story tells a tale of selfishness contrasted by wisdom.  In a small town in Poland lives a peddler, Mendel, and a merchant, Feivel.  I can't help but think of the characters Ebeneezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit when reading about these two fathers.  Feivel publicly condemns Mendel's children for feasting on the pleasing aroma of his latkes as they cool each night.  Discover with the townspeople a compelling interpretation of justice and mercy simply taught by the sage Rabbi.

Nina Jaffe says, "This story was told to me by my father, who learned it from a man whose father had lived in a shtetl -- a little Jewish town, in Eastern Europe -- much like the one described in this book.  And so a story was passed on in the true style of oral tradition."

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