Light the Meno­rah!: A Hanukkah Handbook

Jacque­line Jules; Kristi­na Swarn­er, illus.

  • Review
By – July 11, 2018

This beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed hand­book about Hanukkah, its rit­u­als, and its his­tor­i­cal ori­gins is osten­si­bly for the pic­ture book audi­ence but can be enjoyed by the entire fam­i­ly. As expect­ed, the sto­ry of the Mac­cabees, the mir­a­cle of the oil, and the bless­ings are all includ­ed — as well as Hanukkah songs and music, recipes, crafts, and instruc­tions for play­ing drei­del. But what makes this book unique are the eight reflec­tions that appear oppo­site lav­ish­ly illus­trat­ed spreads, encour­ag­ing a shared read­ing expe­ri­ence. The brief reflec­tions are tied to parts of the Hanukkah sto­ry, and the sug­ges­tion is to read, and then dis­cuss, one reflec­tion each night while gath­ered to light the can­dles. Such dis­cus­sions can show how past events relate to issues today’s fam­i­lies face. Swarner’s charm­ing­ly styl­ized peo­ple and scenes, most­ly paint­ed in soft tones of sap­phire and amethyst, evoke feel­ings of peace, calm­ness, and serenity.

While the pub­lish­er rec­om­mends this book for read­ers ages 4 to 10, this book is a won­der­ful resource for fam­i­lies to use together.

Susan Kan­tor was a senior writer/​editor for Girl Scouts of the USA, a chil­dren’s book edi­tor, and a past judge for the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards in the illus­trat­ed children’s book cat­e­go­ry. She is a writer and a docent at the Rubin Muse­um in New York City, where she leads pub­lic and pri­vate tours.

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