Hanukkah Around the World

Whoever thought of connecting a candle used on Tisha B'Av to Hanukkah? Or participating in a torchlight relay race to honor the Macabees?

  • Ages 8-11

Whoever thought of connecting a candle used on Tisha B'Av to Hanukkah? Or participating in a torchlight relay race to honor the Macabees? How about eight festive family meals for each night that you light the Hanukkiah? Or celebrating Hanukkah in the summer with an annual park event devoted to a specific theme? That's what happens in Italy, Israel, Uzbekistan and Australia respectively. This is a book that captures everyone's imagination by transforming Hanukkah into a trip around the world. With eight original stories, you can read one each night/day, and let the tale transport you to a different country, complete with a matching recipe for the evening's Hanukkah festivities. Extend fun-filled family and school events by using the "Hanukkah Potpourri" section as a valuable resource for more customs from across the globe.


  • This book is fun! North American Ashkenazi Jews often feel that the way they (we) celebrate holidays, tell stories, and sing songs is the only way/the best way/the real way to do them. But it's not, and after reading this book I think everyone will be ready to cook something new, play a different game, sing a different song. After a quick history lesson, we are told a couple of things that I didn't know-"Store your candles in the freezer to make them for longer". And for lighting the Hanukkah candles, in Sephardi households, "only the head of the household lights the hanukkiah". The "Hanukkah-Israel connection" is made much more clear-"once again, a small number of Jews relied on strategy not one, but many mighty armies surrounding them." Then we take a virtual trip around the world. In Israel, the city of Modi'in holds an annual relay race from Modi'in to Jerusalem in which a torch is passed from one runner to the next. In New York City, a family does "something different every day" of Hanukkah-a night to bake cookies, a music night, a movie night, a night to give to charity, a night to invite friends for a sleepover, and a night to exchange gifts. In Istanbul, we get a new song ("Ocho Candelas") and a new recipe for "burmelos"-fried fritters. In Samarkand,Uzbekistan, "it is customary for sodas to bring their families to their parents' homes to celebrate the first night of the holiday." We get a little vocabulary lesson (Bivi, grandmother, and Bobo, grandfather) and a recipe for jarkoff, traditionally served on the holiday. From Turin, Italy, there is a link between Tisha b'Av and Hanukkah-the first being sad, the destruction of the Temple, and the secondbeing the joyful rededication. The recipe is for Precipizi a honey-covered sweet. In Australia Hanukkah comes in the summer, so the recipe is for a New York Blizzard, a vanilla ice cream/milk combination. In Warsaw Poland, we get potato latkes; in Nabeul, Tunisia, we don't get a recipe, but we do learn about the Festival of the Daughters. The book concludes with a Hanukkah Potpourri and a nice glossary. Recommended.

    Judy Silverman
    Children's Literature
    November, 2009


    This tour of Hanukkah includes information on its historical significance and the ways in which it is celebrated in places like New York City, Turin, Sydney and Warsaw. After an introductory section about the history, terminology and customs associated with the holiday, the book features a story of a child living in each city. Each section explains how he or she will celebrate the holiday and offers brief historical summaries of Judaism in each region as well as recipes for dishes like burmelos, precipizi and latkes. The informative sections are nicely balanced against the more festive elements.
    Ages 8-11.

    Publisher's Weekly
    October 19, 2009


    Hanukkah traditions from several countries are outlined in this compilation of lesser-known commemorative customs. A generic history of the holiday is followed by eight fictional short stories related to a specific city around the world. From a torch relay in Modi'in, Israel, where the Maccabees' struggle began, to a concert in Istanbul sung in the Sephardic language of Ladino, to a summery outdoor celebration in Sydney, to a Samarkand, Uzbekistan, custom of dancing for eight nights in different homes, the stories relate unique practices. Sidebars include each city's past and present Judaic presence and influence as well as recipes. Wehrman's soft muted paintings, which sketch out maps, traditional dress and foods, add a further instructional element to the fictional prose. A "Hanukkah Potpourri" offers one-paragraph descriptions of ten additional observances.

    Kirkus Reviews
    September 15, 2009


    This companion to Passover Around the World (2006) provides a history of Hanukkah's origins, a discussion of current traditions, and fictional stories (set in Israel, the U.S., Turkey, Uzbekistan, Italy, Australia, Poland, and Tunisia) highlighting the ways in which contemporary families celebrate the Festival of Lights. For each country the author includes a large map, full-color paintings, a nation-specific historical sidebar, and a holiday recipe; an appended section provides briefer information about local customs in additional countries. Some rituals will surprise readers in colder climates-a torch relay in Israel and an outdoor carnival in Australia, for example-but similarities such as singing, lighting candles, and enjoying fried foods also emerge. Although South America is not represented and no source notes are provided, the engaging text and attractive illustrations will make this a good choice for families wishing to explore diverse ways of celebrating.

    December 1, 2009


    Move over latkes, make room for precipizi. And sufganiyot, debla cookies and burmelos. These are among the traditional sweets eaten in Jewish homes from Italy to Israel, Tunisia and Turkey during the eight-day Festival of Lights. Recipes for the treats are featured in "Hanukkah Around the World" by Israeli-American children's writer Tami Lehman-Wilzig. The illustrated travelogue takes young readers to eight faraway places around the globe.
    First stop, the Israeli city of Modi'in, the ancient biblical home of the Maccabees where the Chanukah story began 2,000 years ago. Today the city comes alive to celebrate its beloved holiday with a relay race to Jerusalem and eight days of kid-friendly festivities, Lehman-Wilzig writes in an e-mail from her home in Israel.
    Each of the eight cities featured includes a short fictional story that highlights local customs, historical notes, current events and easy-to-follow recipes. Back pages include Chanukah potpourri from other locales and a glossary.
    The custom that most impressed Lehman-Wilzig was in Turin, where a custom connects the summertime observance of Tisha B'Av, commemorating the ancient destruction of the Temple, with Chanukah, recalling the rededication of the Temple.
    "It's a wonderful way to close the circle and is a custom to be cherished," she writes.

    Penny Schwartz, JTA
    December 4, 2009


    Hanukkah Around the World is rich in descriptions of the festival of lights as it is celebrated in Modi'in (Israel), New York, Istanbul, Samarkand (Uzbekistan) and Turin (Italy)-wherever Jews make their homes. Author Tami Lehman-Wilzig includes songs in Ladino, Hebrew, Yiddish, English and Russian-and recipes for tasty treats from sufganiyot (doughnuts) to bourekas. Each community celebrates with joy, united by shared history. Descriptions of games and dances abound and Vicki Wehrman's illustrations are lovely.
    Hadassah Magazine
    December 2009


    "Hanukkah Around the World" by Tamar Lehman-Wilzig, with illustrations by Vicki Wehrman, is an excellent encyclopedic journey to several exciting places across the globe for kids in first to third grades. The book is part geography, part Jewish culture and heritage primer, and part glossary of Chanukah terms and concepts wrapped around stories that illustrate the diversity of Jews and Jewish ritual. Maya especially liked the chapter on Chanukah in Istanbul, where the character Molly dreams of burmelos, fried fritters.

    December 5, 2009


    There's no need to emphasize only the lachrymose aspects of Diaspora; Jews around the world regularly share many of the same joys, too. Like Hanukkah. As Tami Lehman-Wilzig relates in Hanukkah Around the World (Kar-Ben, September), a book for the internationally minded 9- to 12-year-old in your life, not only do David Lee Roth and James Caan light the menorah, but do so their coreligionists in Samarkand, Uzbekistan; Nabeul, Tunisia; and Sydney, Australia. Rather than latkes this December, why not whip up some of the burmelos that Turkish Jews savor, or the precipizi beloved by Italian Jews? Along with charming anecdotes, Lehman-Wilzig provides recipes for both.

    Tablet Magazine
    September 21, 2009


Shabbat Around the World

We Jews are a diverse people, with communities all over the world creating engaging Shabbat customs.

You can learn about them through my unique,
digital-story / lesson-plan series that
It Gets You and Your Students Involved!