A Chanukah Treasure From A Personal Archive
The annual search for the ‘Chanukah box’ starts the celebration of this most festive festival in my house. Amidst the Chanukiahs and the song-sheets, there are a couple of broken Chanukah candles, some past-its-sell-by date Chanukah gelt (chocolate coins), the children’s primary school art projects and a few raisins left over from games of dreidel played with dried fruit as currency. There are numerous children’s books on Chanukah themes: Arthur Yorink’s ‘The Flying Latke’, the ubiquitous Sammy Spider’s (First) Chanukah, Harriet Feder’s ‘Judah Who Always Said ‘No!’ (can you guess what the refrain is?) and, my favourite, ‘The Chanukah Guest’ by Eric Kimmel about a bear who eats Bubba Brayne’s latkes.
There are dreidels of all shapes and sizes. The piece de resistance, though, is a musical snow globe. A dreidel at the centre, you wind it up and, as it spins, it plays the ditty ‘Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of clay’ while children dance around the dreidel.
We bought it over a quarter of a century ago, in a post-holiday sale at New York’s Bloomingdales store and, though it was still rather expensive and far too heavy to be brought home to England easily, it was entirely irresistible. I suppose you might call it kitsch. But it’s my special Chanukah treasure and it always makes me smile. Happy Chanukah!
This year, to celebrate Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, Hidden Treasures will feature ‘Eight Days Of Treasures’. Chanukah commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and the subsequent rededication of the Second Temple at the end of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE.
Hidden Treasures: Celebrating the documents, photos and artefacts in British archives that tell the story of Jews in Britain