A perfect booklet for families who want to learn about Hanuka as a festival that celebrates resistance to tyranny and the right to be different. Written by Hershl Hartman, educational director of the Sholem Community, with original illustrations by noted children’s author and illustrator Amy Goldman Koss, “THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF HANUKA” is unlike conventional Hanuka books.
It tells the story of Hanuka by explaining the successful Jewish revolt about 2,200 years ago against the Greco-Syrians. But “THE HIDDEN HISTORY” doesn’t dwell on the “miracle” legend — or what it calls the “the Magic Jar of Oil” that was supposed to last for one day but, according to myth, lasted for eight. Instead, it notes that the story of the Magic Jar of Oil was actually written in the Talmud several hundred years after the Maccabees’ victory — by rabbis who needed to explain why Jews had long celebrated an eight-day festival of lights.
“THE HIDDEN HISTORY” connects the Jewish winter festival of Hanuka with the ancient rites of other cultures which use lights and fire and evergreen trees during their own winter solstice celebrations. The 25-page booklet also deals with other aspects of the Hanuka festival, such as gift-giving and foods. And it notes little-discussed historical aspects of Hanuka such as its role during the American revolution and the cruelty of the Maccabees after their victory.
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