Posts Tagged ‘Chelm’

Hanukkah confusion

December 18, 2011

There are a great many books for Hanukkah. A great many of them are for children. A great many of these are written by Eric A. Kimmel. They are all good and teach something about the holiday. The Chanukkah Guest is a cute picture book in which an old woman mistakes a bear for a rabbi on Chanukah. She feeds him all the latkes she had made for a party and gives him the scarf she had made for the rabbi. What I liked most about the story is that when Purim comes—in many ways a similar holiday—you can read The Mystery Bear, in which a cub wanders into a Purim seudah and is thought to be a person in costume by everyone but a young boy.

A Confused Hanukkah: An Original Story of Chelm by Jon Koons is apparently based on a play. Maybe the play is great; things that don’t seem to work on paper can be very funny when seen on stage. Yes, I know this story is supposed to be cute and silly. But—the Reconstructionist and Havurah Jew in me is coming out—people should know how to celebrate without needing a rabbi. Yes, it’s good that they send someone to get information; but maybe they should have tried the town librarian instead of sending someone to the big city, where he assumes that the Christmas customs he sees are for Hanukkah and returns home where the people of Chelm modify them for Hanukkah. And when the rabbi does return, his explanation of the holiday is the usual glossing over of what really happened. Bah, humbug.

One final thing to be confused about: how do you spell the holiday coming up this week?


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