A Confused Hanukkah

Published November 26, 2004, issue of November 26, 2004.
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A Confused Hanukkah

By Jon Koons With Illustrations by S.D. Schindler

Dutton Children’s Books


Hanukkah is fast approaching in the Village of Chelm, a very simple town with some very simple people (“some might even call them fools”). Meanwhile, the rabbi has disappeared, and even the wise men can’t remember how to celebrate. Yossel bravely volunteers to travel to Tevka for help, but when his trusty steed, Bubkes, takes a wrong turn, they wind up lost (and even more confused) in the Big City. Impressed by the brick buildings and cobblestone streets, he absorbs holiday sights and sounds that he mistakenly thinks must be right. With the benefit of Yossel’s newfound wisdom, soon the people of Chelm are decorating trees with matzo balls and dreidels, and gathering around Hanukkah Hershel, a fat man in a blue-velvet suit. Luckily, the rabbi returns to town just in the nick of time. “Not to worry,” he says. “The confusion in your head is small compared to the wisdom in your heart.” Although it’s hard to imagine Eastern European Jews ever confusing Christmas with Hanukkah, the lesson will likely not be lost on American children today.

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