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How to Spell Chanukah and Other Holiday Dilemmas. Hardcover – November 2, 2007

3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite a cheery title, the writers in this odd little holiday book tackle their subject-and its attendant traditions of family, guilt and, well, tradition-with ambivalence, a real sense of soul-searching and a bit of self-pity. Trying to make peace with their Chanukah memories, most of these writers are quick to point out its relative unimportance in the Jewish roster of holidays, inflated by its proximity to Christmas; still, their stories are clearly vivifying. There's a great deal of kvetching over the influence and excess of Christmas, and not just its consumerism; Jill Kargman, for example, writes about some casual mid-sermon anti-Semitism at a midnight mass. There's also solidarity to be found, as in Peter Orner's story of growing up in a family of "Christmas-tree Jews": "Let me be clear: we had no relationship with Christ beyond loving the mall like everyone else in America." Standouts include graphic artist Eric Orner's "Traditions Break," a compact and involving story about a young woman's first Chanukah alone; Joanna Smith Rakoff's "Dolls of the World," an accomplished troubled-family tale; and Josh Braff's "The Blue Team," which happily extols, "What a holiday.... No synagogue, no guilt, no mortar, and no real lesson to be absorbed and passed down to my Jewish offspring. Thank God."
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Book Description

What a holiday. No pestilence, no slavery, no locusts, no cattle disease or atonement. synagogue, no guilt, no mortar, and no real lesson to be absorbed and passed down to my Jewish offspring. "Thank God," writes Joshua Braff, one of eighteen Jewish writers— Adam Langer, Tova Mirvis, Steve Almond, Peter Orner, and others—who extol, excoriate, and expand our understanding of this most merry of Jewish holidays and offer up nervy, irreverent, and, yes, even nostalgic takes on a holiday that has a special place in Jewish hearts  . . . and stomachs.

There are profound questions: "Chanukah unearths a debate that's been going on for centuries. Yes, I'm talking about potato latkes: grated or mashed?" (Amy Klein). There are confessions: “Perhaps here is where I should mention that my 100 percent Jewish father was—and remains—obsessed with Christmas” (Jennifer Gilmore); revelations: "Shocker of all shockers, the first Jewish governor in the United States was elected in . . . Idaho! Swear" (Jill Kkargman); and tender recollections: "You are reminded of your real gifts: a family who you get to come home to" (Laura Dave). And there's even a comic strip by Eric Orner, the mastermind behind Ethan Green.

From the hilarious to the snarky, the poignant to the poetic, this collection proves there are as many ways to spell Chanukah as there are ways to celebrate it. --This text refers to the CD-ROM edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (November 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156512538X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125384
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,516,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Emily Franklin is the author of Liner Notes (hailed by Tom Perrotta as a "...charming debut, a grab-bag of delights...") and The Girls' Almanac (" prose" - Publisher's Weekly). She is also the author of more than sixteen young adult books including The Half-Life of Planets (nominated for YALSA's Best Book of the Year) and Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom (named to the 2013 Rainbow List). A former chef, she wrote the cookbook-memoir Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 New Recipes to chronicle a year of new foods, family meals, hilarity and heartache around the table. Her work has appeared on National Public Radio and in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Monkeybicycle, Word Riot, DIAGRAM, Mississippi Review, Pindeldyboz, Carve Magazine, and Post Road among other places. She was longlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Award, the largest short story award in the world. Her recipes have been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and food websites. Her next novel, Last Night at the Circle Cinema, a Junior Library Guild selection, was published in September 2015.

She lives with her husband, four kids, and enormous dog outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

To contact Emily Franklin email

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on November 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A group of stories (mostly, I think, nonfictional) by a group of (mostly, I think, youngish and secular) Jewish writers about some of their Chanukah experiences. One or two of the stories are moving, one or two are humorous; most were just unmemorable. On the positive side, this book is an easy and (mostly) painless read- the sort of book that you could comfortably read if you were trapped on an airplane for two or three hours, but not exactly a life-changing experience.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wayfaringstranger on November 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was a big disappointment. I wanted a book telling about Chanukah and the traditions, giving suggestions and ideas on how to celebrate this holiday. This book is trash. It uses the "f" bomb word, then to top it off is uses graphic pictures in the comics, neither of which added to the book but what little good that was in the book, those two things took completely away. This is definitely a "do not read" even if you are stuck with no other book.
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0 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L. Caplan on April 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After reading the original reviews of this book, it was ordered for our synagogue's library. Upon receipt of the book and reading most of it, our librarian found it quite inappropriate for our young adults. It is now hidden amongst our adult books (in an area few people use).
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