Chanukah is all about miracles so I have chosen, A Great Miracle Happened There by Karla Kuskin. I love the way this story explains Chanukah through the eyes of a family. It begins with a description of a Menorah, the special candlelabra with nine places for candles. There is one special candle called the Shammas and it lights the other eight, one for each night.
Then it discusses the history of this holiday. There was an evil king, Antiochus, who ordered the Jewish people to worship the same Gods as the Greeks or they would die. There was a brave and great man among the Jews, Judah Maccabee, who urged the people to stand up for what is right, not be scared of oppressors and have courage in the face of them.
Judah and the Jews fought very difficult battles against Antiochus and ultimately won back their sacred temple, but it was in ruins. They worked day and night to make the temple beautiful again to honor God. The miracle is that they only had enough oil to work for one day, but miraculously it lasted eight nights until there could be new oil. That is why today we celebrate for eight days, lighting the Menorah each night.
Our family in the story celebrates with gifts each night, eats potato latkes, delicious potato pancakes, fried in oil and plays the Dreidel game. The Dreidel is inscribed with the words: A Great Miracle Happened There.
The family discusses all this and about miracles. Aunt Amy says she thinks a miracle is something wonderful that people cannot explain and only God can make happen. But Uncle Mort thinks that when people can’t explain something amazing, they call it a miracle. He believes if we all knew enough, everything could be explained scientifically. Grandma disagrees. I like the mother’s idea. To her, it seems a miracle that we are celebrating something that happened so very, very long ago and it still has meaning for us.
So, what does Mommy think of miracles and does she believe in them? Well, your Mommy definitely believes in miracles as amazing things that only God can make happen. Everything about you is a dream come true. Your beautiful eye lashes, your ten fingers and toes, and especially your eyes. The expression in your eyes is so gorgeous and so sweet it is something that only God could create. There is nothing else in this world like it. It leaves science in the dust. Because of you, Elena, your Mommy will believe in miracles for as long as she lives. You were, made specially, only by the power of the Creator of all that is.