In the Month of Kislev: A Story for Hanukkah

by Nina Jaffe

Other authorsLouise August (Illustrator)
Book, 1992



Call number

E 247 JAF



New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 1992.


A rich, arrogant merchant takes the family of a poor peddler to court and learns a lesson about the meaning of Hanukkah.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The family of Mendel the peddler find themselves in terrible need one Hanukkah season, with no money to buy food - not even the makings for a single latke! - and little fuel to keep their tiny hut warm. Returning home from the synagogue on the first night of the holiday, his three young daughters -
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Leah, Gittel and Devorah - stop beneath the kitchen window of the wealthy merchant Feivel, and briefly enjoy the scent of good food. Comforted by this, they begin to make the same stop each night, going to bed with smiles on their faces. Their parents think at first that it is a Hanukkah miracle, but when the greedy Feivel discovers what is going on, they find themselves brought before Rabbi Yonah. Will they be made to pay for the scent of Feivel's food? And if so, what is the appropriate price...?

The story of the scent of food being paid for with the sound of money is one that can be found in many folk traditions around the world. From the Japanese stories of Ōoka Tadasuke, a samurai and judge who once adjudicated "The Case of the Stolen Smell" (see the collection Ooka the Wise: Tales of Old Japan for one retelling), to the Turkish tales concerning the Nasreddin Hodja, a famous trickster and wise man who once had to value "The Smell of Soup" (see Nearly Nonsense: Hoja Tales from Turkey for a telling of the tale), there are many examples to be found. For a story collected in the United States, see Sharon Creeden's Fair Is Fair: World Folktales of Justice. This Jewish variant, told to Nina Jaffe by her father, makes for a lovely Hanukkah story, but also has relevance throughout the year. I liked the fact that the Rabbi's judgment is not the conclusion here, but that Feivel is allowed to learn his lesson, and is shown to have reformed. This adds a nice touch, I think, making the lesson one about sharing, but also forgiveness, as Mendel and his family join the Feivel family for their next Hanukkah celebration.

All in all, In the Month of Kislev: A Story for Hanukkah is a wonderful folkloric retelling, and an appealing holiday story. The narrative is involving, and the artwork - wood-cuttings that are then painted - is lovely. Highly recommended to all young folklore enthusiasts, as well as to anyone looking for good Hanukkah stories for children.
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Original publication date



0670828637 / 9780670828630

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