Miracles and escaping from enemies are the aspects of Chanukah highlighted in this collection of stories, which take place in different periods of history. “The Magic of a Violin” recounts how a rabbi saves a partisan group in the forest from discovery by the Nazis with the help of his musical instrument. “In Those Days” and “A Chanukah in Old Seville” deal with the Inquisition. “A Candle in the Night” takes place during World War II, when a Belgian girl saves the children for whom she babysits and their parents by being brave like Hannah. The Crusades are the backdrop for “The Golden Shamesh.” In “Young Hasmoneans,” two boys with similar appearances trick their captors and convince one’s father to join the Jewish rebellion. “Chanukah in No-Man’s Land” describes a World War II miracle. The final story, “Miriam’s First Chanukah,” takes place in 1946. Miriam has decided she wants to light the menorah, which her family has never done. Although they balk at first, her whole family participates, and her father buys a beautiful new menorah for her. The first story is the strongest, with the tension of potential discovery and the rabbi saving the group. There are a lot of secret passageways and tunnels as groups escape from their enemies. With the mention of different rituals, prayers, and learning Torah, the book is obviously aimed at Orthodox readers, but most readers will enjoy this trip through history. Ages 9 – 12.
Kathe Pinchuck, M.L.I.S., is the librarian of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, New Jersey. She is currently the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries.