Friday, December 16, 2022

Hanukkah Hijinks

Image of Herschel crushing an egg while a tiny goblin looks on in horrorThis Sunday marks the first night of Hanukkah, a Jewish festival that lasts for eight nights and days. The festival celebrates the Jewish people's liberation of Jerusalem from the Seleucid Empire of Syria and the rededication of the Temple in 164 BCE. Upon regaining the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned except for one sealed jar. Although that jar contained only enough oil to keep the menorah lit for a single day, the flames miraculously burned for eight continuous days, long enough to prepare more oil. Using a shamash, or "helper candle," one candle is lit on each night of the eight-day festival until all nine candles glow brightly on the last evening. The menorah is usually placed in a window or other location of high visibility, because its light is meant to remind those who see it of the miracle of Hanukkah.

Here at Rauner, we are preemptively celebrating Hanukkah by reading through our copy of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, a wonderfully illustrated children's book written by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman of Lyme, New Hampshire. This charming rendition of an old Jewish folktale received the distinction of being a Caldecott Honor Book in 1990; it recounts how Herschel of Ostropol outwitted a motley pack of goblins who were preventing a small village from celebrating Hanukkah. The titular character, who appears in several Yiddish folktales, is believed to be based on an actual person who lived in western Ukraine in the 1800s. To look through this beautiful edition of an enduring tale, come to Rauner and ask to see Illus H997kih.

Dust jacket of Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins