Judah Mac­cabee Goes to the Doctor

Ann D. Koff­sky; Tal­itha Ship­man, illus.

  • Review
By – June 22, 2017

Judah is frus­trat­ed by his baby sis­ter Han­nah. She knocks over his block tow­er, spits out her food, and fol­lows him around. On the first night of Hanukkah, Bubbe gives Judah a Mac­cabee shield and teach­es him about anoth­er Judah who lived a long time ago and pro­tect­ed the Jew­ish peo­ple. Judah car­ries his shield every­where and does his best to pro­tect his baby sis­ter from dan­ger. On the last day of Hanukkah, Dad takes Judah and Han­nah to the doc­tor for their annu­al check-ups. At first Judah doesn’t want to get a shot, but Dad and the doc­tor con­vince him: “… a shot is just like a shield … It pro­tects us from sick­ness.” Dad also explains that Hannah’s too young for a shot. But if you get the shot, you’ll be pro­tect­ed. You won’t be able to get a new sick­ness, and so she won’t be able to catch it from you — keep­ing you both healthy!” So, just like his name­sake, Judah is the best and bravest broth­er ever, get­ting his shot on his non-shield arm (and only cry­ing a little).

The soft-edged, bright, and cheery paint­ings depict a con­tem­po­rary fam­i­ly joy­ous­ly cel­e­brat­ing Hanukkah with can­dles, latkes, drei­dels, and presents — but also in their every-day lives. It’s refresh­ing to see Dad tak­ing the chil­dren to the pedi­a­tri­cian and the doc­tor por­trayed as a woman of col­or. Addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion about the Mac­cabees is append­ed along with infor­ma­tion on the ben­e­fits of vac­ci­na­tions. While the con­nec­tion to Hanukkah is slight, the sto­ry can be enjoyed year-round to help young read­ers gain some courage before their shots. It can also be used to dis­cuss Pirkei Avot 4:1: Who is a hero, a gibor? The one who con­quers his own fears.”

Rachel Kamin has been a syn­a­gogue librar­i­an and Jew­ish edu­ca­tor for over twen­ty-five years and has worked at North Sub­ur­ban Syn­a­gogue Beth El in High­land Park, IL since 2008, cur­rent­ly serv­ing as the Direc­tor of Life­long Learn­ing. A past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee and past edi­tor of Book Reviews for Chil­dren & Teens for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries News & Reviews, her arti­cles and book reviews appear in numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions. She has been a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Library Association’s Sophie Brody Book Award Com­mit­tee since 2021.

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