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The curious conflation of Hanukkah and the Holocaust in Jewish children's literature.

In recent years, a large number of Jewish children's books have twinned Hanukkah stories with Holocaust narratives. What brings these two groups of narratives together, and what meanings are provoked by their combination? In this article, I examine several children's selections, dating from 1990 to the present, through the lenses of memory studies and Bakhtinian literary criticism, focusing on three major themes: the interplay of trauma and nostalgia, the representation of intergenerational dialogue, and the use of literary artifacts to bridge time. I argue that the literary conflation of these two events results in an historical flattening, eliding the substantial differences between these two moments of persecution; at the same time, I attend to the sometimes quite complicated and evocative moments of memory provoked by this textual linking.

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On a cold December night in 1993, a rock crashed sharply through a window in Billings, Montana. The window sheltered the bedroom of a young Jewish boy, Isaac Schnitzer, and the projectile rock comprised the latest incident in a string of local racist and anti-Jewish acts that coincided with Hanukkah, the Jewish "festival of lights." In a story that eventually received national media attention, the citizens of Billings rallied around Isaac and his family. (1) They placed hanukkiyot--menorahs, the nine-branched candelabras that Jews light on this holiday--in their windows throughout the holiday season. Some of the menorahs were three-dimensional, while others were made of paper, often drawn by the children of the household. These gestures formed a powerful performance of interreligious solidarity. The story was so striking that it was eventually retold in Janice Cohn's picture book, The Christmas Menorahs: The Town that Fought Hate. (2)

In Cohn's account, a remarkable conflation occurs. Hanukkah and the Holocaust become cognate events. "Haters and bullies have been around for as long as anyone can remember," Isaac's father tells him. He then narrates the story of the Holocaust for his son, telling him an apocryphal tale about the king of Denmark and his brave actions in solidarity with Danish Jews during World War II. (3) Later in the book, Isaac narrates "The Hanukkah Story" of the ancient Maccabees' military victory over the Syrian-Greeks, or Seleucids, for his friends at school. Both tales are illustrated in sepia, "flashback" tones, in contrast with the vivid hues of "today" found on the book's other pages.

"As long as anyone can remember." How long is that? Further, if the universal "hater and bully" really is eternal, ever-present, why select these two particular events together? Why does The Christmas Menorahs speak of Hanukkah and the Holocaust in the same breath? What kinds of meanings are created in this telling?

Below, I analyze this conflation of Hanukkah and the Holocaust in selected Jewish children's literature published since 1980. On one level, this combination is not remarkable. As Laura Levitt argues, the Holocaust has emerged as an overwhelming force in American Jewish lives and identities, sometimes eliding tales of "ordinary loss." (4) At the same time, with Levitt, I contend that reading the Holocaust alongside other stories of American Jewish history--the experiences of those Jews who were not victims or survivors of the Holocaust--can open up new spaces of memory; indeed, this appears to be what is already occurring within many of the books on the market. (5) This conflation--the telling of violent pasts, both Maccabean and. European, alongside the telling of family histories and American Jewish holidays--leads to a unique ethical tension. The play of memory and time in Hanukkah literature can result in the elision of historical differences among diverse tales of persecution and in the domestication of violent narratives. Simultaneously, however, the flexibility of memory and nostalgia allows for a fanciful "time travel" that is narrated through intergenerational connections and representations of family artifacts. In this particular conflation, the narrative structure of the Hanukkah story features a heavy dose of violence that can be intertextually linked to the violence of the Holocaust, ushering in the Holocaust's unfathomable recent presence through the story of a smaller, more remote persecution.

Twin Imperatives: Remember the Maccabees, Remember the Holocaust

The publication of Jewish children's books in America dates back to the nineteenth century. (6) American Jews were strongly influenced both by the Protestant Sunday School movement and by the arrival of Jewish immigrants from Germany, where the first Jewish children's bibles were produced. As Penny Schine Gold has shown, over the first few decades of the twentieth century, children's bible stories were one of the means by which Jews sought to adapt to modernity while simultaneously passing on Jewish traditions. (7) The Jewish Publication Society (JPS) began publishing tales of Jewish role models for children in the 1890s; less than a hundred years later, JPS had over thirty-four Jewish children's books in print. (8) Jewish children's books grew tremendously, along with American youth culture on the whole, in the decades following World War II; one particularly moment of note is the publication of Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family, which featured a large Jewish family on the Lower East Side, beginning in 1951. (9) Today, Jewish children's books are a booming business, produced by both Jewish and mainstream publishing houses, ranging from Jewish Lights and Kar-Ben to Scholastic. A search on Amazon.com under the categories "children's books/religions/judaism" results in 1,204 items. (10)" Jewish literary websites such as Jbooks.com feature prominent children's book sections. (11) It seems the American Jewish children's book, from Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family (still in print) to David Wisniewski's acclaimed picture book Golem, is here to stay. (12)

How did Hanukkah and the Holocaust become conflated in this genre? The Christmas Menorahs is not the only children's book to bring these two persecutions together. The two events were actually first rhetorically connected before the events of what would later be termed "the Holocaust" had run their course; however, their joint representation has become particularly prominent in recent years. (13) I focus here on the period from the 1990s through the beginning of the twenty-first century because this time span coincides with a tremendous increase in American interest in the Holocaust, sparked by a surge in such media during the late 1970s and a near-saturation level of American representations in the 1990s, with the release of Stephen Spielberg's Schindler's List, the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a popular Broadway revival of The Diary of Anne Frank. (14) It is thus not surprising that children's books from 1990 to the present reflect a corresponding rise in representations of the Holocaust; what interests me is how frequently that increase accompanies Hanukkah representations. Numerous Hanukkah books published over the last twenty years collapse ancient Seleucid persecutions of Judeans together with the Nazi "final solution" of twentieth-century Europe; these range from picture books like David Adler's One Yellow Daffodil to chapter books like Malka Penn's The Hanukkah Ghosts. (15)

The pairing of Hanukkah and the Holocaust comprises both a bizarre juxtaposition and a logical reflection of how Jewish identity is represented in American culture. On the unsettling side, such books conflate two tremendously different historical traumas. In one corner, they feature a heavily sanitized description of the Maccabean wars of the 160s B.C.E., which were both an uprising against Seleucid Greek occupation, with its corollary limitations on Judean ritual practice, and an internal civil conflict involving the control of the Jerusalem Temple high priesthood and intra-Judean tensions over Hellenization. In this episode, the Maccabean forces are ultimately victorious over the Greeks, and their ensuing Hasmonean dynasty retains control of Judea until the coming of the Romans in the first century B.C.E. (16) In contrast, the events of the Holocaust, over two millennia later, entail the systematic persecution and annihilation of six million Jews throughout Europe, from highly assimilated German and Dutch Jews to more isolated Jews in the shtetls of Russia and Poland. There is no "victory" in the historical Holocaust, although, as Timothy Cole and James Young have both argued, contemporary Holocaust narratives rend towards messages of heroism, redemption, and survival. (17)

Nonetheless, these two narratives have been repeatedly brought together in recent Jewish children's media. This may be in part because Hanukkah and the Holocaust are each a nexus at which Jewish history is comparatively prominent in American culture. Despite the fact that it is relatively low on the Jewish festival totem pole, in America Hanukkah is publicly recognized, and heavily marketed, because it coincides with the December consumer juggernaut of Christmas. Since Hanukkah is Christmas' neighbor on the calendar, discussions of Hanukkah in public schoolrooms are common; just as Isaac in The Christmas Menorahs explains the practice of the menorah to his class-mates, Jewish students around the country may be called upon to discuss the "other" symbol--the menorah--that is present alongside the Christmas tree. (18) What was once a comparatively minor holiday on the Jewish ritual calendar has morphed into the primary holiday that most non-Jews associate with Judaism. The Holocaust has also received tremendous popular attention, from school curricula concerned with the mantra of "never again" to the establishment of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (19) Cole refers to this trend as the "myth of the Holocaust," which is not meant to suggest that the events of the Holocaust did not happen, but, rather, that the explosion of Holocaust representations and "experiences," particularly since the 1970s, have resulted in the emergence of a "virtual Holocaust" that consumers, museum visitors, and other receivers take to heart as the "real" thing. (20) Thus, ironically, American Jews have come to be understood through images of the starkest deprivation and pain--namely, the suffering of the Holocaust--and through images of the most vibrant joy and excess--specifically, the celebration of Hanukkah. The Hanukkah-Holocaust complex provides a way of reconciling these two poles of American Jewish identity. This seems one likely hypothesis for why these two disparate events are conflated, but what does it mean to read these traumas together?

The most powerful trend in these works is their layered combination of trauma and nostalgia. (21) By telling tales of deprivation and death alongside tales of cozy winter celebration, Jewish children's books overcome the speechlessness usually ascribed to trauma: trauma becomes tell-able in a domesticated setting. (22) On the one hand, the joint narration of traumatic situations and warm domestic memories softens the blow of suffering, making it possible for young readers to begin to "comprehend" a history that leaves most adults lost in a blurry lack of meaning. At the same time, however, these narratives may lead to an over-homogenization of trauma, wherein the horrors of the Holocaust become so understandable, so neatly packaged and redemptive, that they cease being tales of horrific, complex suffering. In the terminology of Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin, such violence becomes "finalizeable." (23) Or, as Maria Morris argues in her work on curriculum and the Holocaust, "The text of the Holocaust is always a stranger to us and must remain so if we want to avoid the crap of arrogance and domestication." (24) If the violence of the Holocaust or of the Maccabean era is reduced to a formulaic, pan-historical discourse, it is made overly familiar, almost comfortable. We impose a closure upon its open-ended meaning, in essence, doing violence to the memory of violence. The challenge is to find genres of memory-making that recognize the horrors of persecution while leaving them unfinalizeable: if we enshroud the meaning of such violence, freezing it in the sepia-toned pages of children's books, we metaphorically double the finalizing act of the material killings that have already taken place.

The conflation of Hanukkah and the Holocaust in Jewish children's literature raises other paradigms for understanding religion and children's media. It demands analysis of the complexities of time and memory in a narrative world where time slippage is the norm. Two particular literary tropes are instrumental in the passing on of trauma-nostalgia: these are intergenerational utterances and the presence of artifacts that transcend time and space. By "utterance," I mean, following Bakhtin, any speech act in which both the speaker and the receiver are implicated, a speech system in which utterer and listener are blended, breaking down binary views of language and conversation. (25) By "artifact," I mean an artifact in the sense formulated by psychologist Burton Vygotsky, namely, that humans mediate both their actions and their understanding of the world through artifacts, repositories of meaning which are passed down (and re-mediated) between generations. (26) Below, I consider these three themes--trauma-nostalgia, intergenerational connections, and artifacts--through close-readings of selected children's books.

Trauma and Nostalgia: Maccabees Unstuck in Time

The tales that Jews tell--particularly those that they tell to their children--are a form of memory-making, They are often presented to children based on the prestige of what "really happened," yet they are not fixed stories. As an activity that takes place in the present, memory has tremendous ramifications for contemporary Jewish identities. In particular, Hanukkah books construct identity through the interwoven writing of trauma and of nostalgia. Crucially, this trauma-nostalgia tension takes place in a world that is, in Kurt Vonnegut's words, "unstuck in time." (27)

The quote from The Christmas Menorahs with which I opened this article provides a prime example of this temporal condensation: "Haters and bullies have been around for as long as anyone can remember." (28) This statement endows persecutors with a quality of timelessness: they are ever-present but flattened and conflated, creating a faceless mega-villain who lacks context and scope. Stories that twin the Holocaust with "The First Hanukkah" gloss over the tremendous differences between these two historical epochs, resulting in a sort of generic persecution that knows no bounds. In one picture book, Karen Hesse's The Stone Lamp, each night of Hanukkah corresponds with a different era of persecution: Greeks become Romans become Crusaders become Nazis. (29) The same tormenters appear again and again. Though the period clothing changes, the message is one of continuous violence, violence that is ripped out from its historical context and neutered, almost rendered logical by being placed into a narrative cycle of repeated persecution. Ironically, by lamenting past Jewish sufferings en masse, many Jewish children's books blur the emotional edges of each unique episode, eliding the details that add vividness and terror to collective memories. This narrative technique is not unique to children's books. Going back at least as far as midrashic literature in the late antique period, Jewish storytelling has invoked, conflated, and intentionally confused different eras of persecution. As Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi notes," the rabbis seem to play with Time as though with an accordion, expanding and collapsing it at will." (30)

At the same time, the flexibility of literary time travel leads to new ways of remembering suffering. In On Collective Memory, sociologist Maurice Halbwachs observes that:
  That faraway world where we remember char we suffered nevertheless
  exercises an incomprehensible attraction on the person who has
  survived it and who seems to think he has left there the best
  part of himself, which he tries to recapture. (31)


For Halbwachs, collective memory, set within social frameworks, provides psychological flexibility. Suffering and nostalgia are intertwined. Trauma and nostalgia are not mutually exclusive; rather, in many of these stories, they are mutually reinforced. Despite their grim settings, these pasts, whether Judean or European, are often cast in a warmhearted light. Halbwachs sets nostalgia for a lost past side by side with the memory of a painful past. Thus, utterances about suffering do not merely recount the pain experienced by the victim; they also evoke the pleasures of the time just before suffering, and even the pleasures in the location, both temporal and spatial, of suffering itself.

This is evident in many children's Hanukkah books; in fact, the association of the horrors of the Holocaust with the joyful domesticity of the winter festival of lights is a powerful dynamic in these stories. In memory, a concentration camp can be transformed into a space of fellowship and even celebration. A stolen potato can be a source of joy in spite of danger; the terrors of hiding out in the desolate remains of a ghetto can be infused with light and with romance. (32) Domestic images, of course, are not inherently pleasant; in the broader world of juvenile and young adult literature, plenty of broken homes, incidences of abuse, and cases of poverty are confronted, from Cinderella on down co The Outsiders. (33) In the Hanukkah-Holocaust tale, however, the home space is almost always a refuge that is contrasted with the spaces of concentration camps, cattle cars, and attic rooms.

Just as different spaces are conflated or juxtaposed in Hanukkah-Holocaust fiction, different times are, as well. Most of the books discussed here include some method of time slippage, either via flashback, frame story, flash-forward, time travel, or some combination of these forms. In the lushly illustrated One Yellow Daffodil, for example, a sad flower shop owner named Morris recalls his childhood concentration camp experience around Hanukkah time, as his own flower shop becomes the setting in which he tells some young friends about the single daffodil that inspired his hope when he was imprisoned. (34) Whether the telling takes place in Israel, in a flower shop, or in a suburban home, the mode of remembering-in-story retains similar mechanisms.

Malka Penn's young adult novel, The Hanukkah Ghosts, demonstrates particularly complex forms of time bleeding. (35) The story is set at the time of its writing during the 1990s, as its young protagonist, Susan, arrives for a winter visit with her great aunt Elizabeth in England. Susan is half-Jewish but has been non-practicing since her mother passed away; her great aunt, a paternal relative, is not Jewish. Throughout the book, Susan learns of the estate's complicated history during World War II, when her infant father was sheltered from the blitz in London by staying there and, simultaneously, her aunt took in a young Jewish girl just Susan's age, a refugee from Vienna.

Time starts to shift, slowly at first, for Susan; near sunset on the first night of Hanukkah she encounters a young boy in the stables who she is sure was not there before; after a brief conversation, he seems to disappear. Susan also learns about the past through photographs; her aunt shows her pictures of her father as a baby, and of the Jewish girl who stayed with them, Hanni, who closely resembles Susan. Despite the fact that she is not Jewish, Aunt Elizabeth chooses to kindle Hanukkah candles in remembrance of her former Jewish guest. Aunt Elizabeth also sets the scene through story, telling Susan about life in the 1940s:
  "Hitler was preaching hate, telling lies about the Jews, rounding
  them up and sending them to death camps, where they were murdered.
  She [Hanni] was one of the lucky ones who escaped."

  Susan's eyes widened. She had learned about the Holocaust in
  school, but it hadn't seemed real to her until now. (36)


Reality, for Susan, comes through a more "direct" experience of World War II--through her aunt's story instead of a school lesson--bur at this point, her relationship to the past is still being mediated through a form of telling; it is made more vivid, but not yet embodied. (37)

When twilight rolls around again, Susan wanders the manor. In an episode that echoes a similar discovery scene in The Secret Garden, she comes upon a small girl crying in another bedroom, saying a tearful prayer as she lights a menorah--the same menorah Susan and her aunt had lit the night before. (38) Here, Susan steps directly into the past, coming face to face with her Holocaust-era doppelganger.

Through the rest of the novel, time slips between present and past, usually magically catalyzed by the lighting of the Hanukkah candles. Ultimately, Susan intervenes in the events of the 1940s, reuniting Hanni with her lost parents and, in a very Back to the Future sort of moment, even getting a chance to hold her own father as a baby. Penn leaves the efficacy of Susan's actions in the past ambiguous--thus avoiding any number of classic time travel paradoxes--but Susan herself is irrevocably changed by her experiences, whatever they "really" were, and becomes reacquainted with her Jewish heritage. The small, flickering flames of the Hanukkah candles slip Susan from present-day December into the conflagration of the Holocaust, moving her from a modern moment to the weightier past that Malkin most thoroughly explores.

In this text, the pain of being separated from a parent--Susan, her infant father, and Hanni are all homesick, orphaned, or both--is combined with the palliative of warm Hanukkah celebrations. Further, time slippage empowers Susan to intervene in past events, regaining a measure of control over the chaotic, painful era of the Holocaust. The progression of time shifts in The Hanukkah Ghosts transforms the Holocaust from a time of pain to a time of celebration. The story's early mood is almost gothic; it is dark, with wind blowing off of the moor and Elizabeth telling the story of poor Hanni, forever separated from her parents by the events of the Shoah. Once Susan has intervened in the events of the 1940s, Hanukkah is transformed from a series of lonely, tearful nights into a warm family celebration in the drawing room. In this case, suffering gives way to celebration through our heroine's time-travel. For Susan, the past is not figuratively bathed in a rosy glow, the beneficiary of temporal distance and a longing for what never was; it is literally re-envisioned and re-experienced as a time of joy.

From Generation to Generation

Intergenerational transmission of past suffering is a particularly crucial means of conveying the trauma-nostalgia complex of Hanukkah. Through children's books, which are often shared between generations in the practice of reading, literary dialogues among characters are marked by especially frequent interactions between grandparents and grandchildren, a representative move that mirrors the settings in which many children's books are read.

Bakhtin's concept of the dialogical "utterance" is a helpful one to think with when examining the stories-within-stories of Jewish children's books. Bakhtin's work undoes the idea of a binary between an active "writer/speaker/author" and a passive "listener/reader;" instead, the meaning of a text is created in the interplay among all of its parties. (39) The "utterance"--any movement of language--is the flexible unit by which this process occurs. Thus, according to Bakhtin:
  Sooner or later what is heard and actively understood will find
  its response in the subsequent speech or behavior of the
  listener. ... Moreover, any speaker is himself a respondent to a
  greater or lesser degree. He is not, after all, the first speaker,
  the one who disturbs the eternal silence of the universe. ... Any
  utterance is a link in a very complexly organized chain of
  other utterances. (40)


In children's books, the utterance works on multiple levels. Within the stories, there are countless examples of grandparents telling stones to their grandchildren--uttering stories in a "chain" of other stories, particularly in the case of folk wisdom. At the same time, the authors of children's books write their "genre" (an extension of "utterance") with the participation of their audience, namely, children and their families, clearly anticipated before them, and with their own childhood memories and family tales lingering with them. Eventually, the books' readers act upon them in unanticipated ways. Their very existence has already influenced the utterance they receive; then they contribute their own speech-acts to this "chain" of utterance, and the textual process continues.

Hanukkah-Holocaust books also present a paradox that is common in juvenile literature: they attempt to instill memory of an event children cannot literally "remember" because it occurred before their birth. Children reading Holocaust books today are not just the first or second, but actually the third, fourth, or even fifth generation born since the events of the Shoah. In other words, they face an exaggerated case of "postmemory," which Marianne Hirsch defines as "a form of heteropathic memory in which the self and the other are more closely connected through familial or group relation, for example, through what it means to be Jewish, or Polish." (41) The Holocaust, and, for that matter, the Hanukkah story, could have happened to the readers of today's children's books, but it has not happened to them. Instead, they are taught to "remember" it through the social frameworks of collective memory. (42) Post-memory relies upon intergenerational connections and communal memories in order to thrive, a phenomenon that is evident in the narrative worlds of Hanukkah-Holocaust children's books.

A textual example of this idea occurs in the popular book One Candle, by Eve Bunting. The story starts out typically, as a grandmother and a great-aunt arrive to celebrate the holiday with their descendants. Then, with the entire family gathered around the table, the following exchange occurs after they have enjoyed their Hanukkah supper:
  "Tell us now about the bad time, Mama," says the mother in the
  story. Her daughter, the narrator, continues:

  "We lean forward. We know this story by heart, but we want to hear
  it again, To us, this story is Hanukkah."


The grandmother then tells of the Hanukkah she observed while living in a concentration camp; that year, she smuggled a potato out from the kitchen where she worked so that the women in her barracks could share it, and light it as their "one candle." "To us, this story is Hanukkah." Hanukkah exists for the story's children primarily in the narrative form of this memory, a memory that is constituted in the between-ness of family. It is the utterance of a story--the grandmother's telling--that ontologically is Hanukkah for the children. Further, not just any story is Hanukkah: a story of the Holocaust is Hanukkah. The utterance enables the children in the story and, by implication, the children reading the story to remember a different Hanukkah, observed at a concentration camp in which they have never dwelt.

In Jane Zalben's The Magic Menorah, on the other hand, the loss of the inter-generational utterance provides a rupture from which the book begins. At the start of the tale, Stanley, the young protagonist, notes the change that overcomes his grandfather each Hanukkah: "Grandpa Abe, who always told the best stories the rest of the year, became quiet and sad during Hanukkah." (43) Here, language is lost at a moment when remembered trauma shuts it down. This is the story we might "expect" of a trauma survivor: a story of silence. Because Grandpa Abe is unable to speak with Stanley, the link between the generations is severed. By the end of the book, however, through the intercession of a magical "genie of the menorah" (yes, really), Stanley travels back in time to meet his great uncle, and he and his grandfather are able to reconnect through stories. Stanley even inherits the menorah that was once his great-uncle's. Grandpa Abe is finally able to speak about this relative, the brother he lost in Europe, by gesturing toward his menorah, The utterance returns by means of memory and fantastical time-travel.

In some cases, authors make their sense of obligation to current generations explicit in the framing of their stories. In The Kids' Catalog of Hanukkah, part of the extremely popular Jewish Catalog series, Ruth Minsky Sender concludes her description of experiencing Hanukkah in a concentration camp, where she and her fellow prisoners sang Hanukkah songs in defiance of their guards, with the following statement:
  Today, when I think back to that Hanukkah night, I see another
  great miracle before me. I see the children who, according to
  Hitler's master plan, should never have been born.

  But here we are: myself, a survivor, who teaches the children
  to be proud of their Jewishness, and the new generation who will
  learn, I hope, to draw strength and courage from the Maccabees of
  long ago and the Maccabees of our own time. (44)


Here, Sender displays the intergenerational linkage, indeed the intergenerational mandate, that is so common in Holocaust literature, as well as the standard time-flattening that conflates the Maccabees with any form of modern resistance "heroes" in the Hanukkah-Holocaust genre. It is not enough for the miracle of new Jewish children to be born; according to Sender, these children must be inculcated with the remembrance of the Holocaust and with a reverence for "their Jewishness." The past is thus inextricably bound up with the formation of children's identity; memories of the Holocaust are mediated, and tempered, through the projection of future children who will remember the Holocaust and who will defy Hitler through their very existence. It is telling that in the Kids' Catalog of Hanukkah, a full three different stories in the first section alone deal with the Hanukkah-Holocaust complex.

Ultimately, the presence of multiple generations in Hanukkah-Holocaust stories speaks to the importance of reception for the Holocaust tale. Stories of trauma demand, in the words of Hirsch and Spitzer, listeners who confirm for survivors "their past, its importance, its narrative and dramatic quality, the need to pass it on." (45) A Holocaust story told by a grandparent in a children's book is doubly witnessed: it is heard by the child "within" the story and it is read (or heard) by the child "in the world," the reader (as well as, perhaps, their parents, siblings, friends, classmates, teachers). In Bakhtinian terms, the telling of the Holocaust requires "answerability": like any utterance, it implies a listener, and like any act, it is "answerable" to those around it, as they are answerable to it, a move that relies upon empathy. In The Philosophy of the Act, Bakhtin writes, "Empathizing actualizes something that did not exist either in the object of empathizing or in myself prior to the act of empathizing, and through this actualized something Being-as-event is enriched." (46) Empathy is generative: in the space between individuals, new meaning--indeed, in Bakhtin's philosophy, a new part of Being--is created. In the case of the grandparent-grandchild relationship in Hanukkah-Holocaust stories, memories of suffering are thus creative acts. Future generations, so prized by Sender and others, are both literally generating the continuation of a people, and semantically generating memories of that people by receiving, and thus co-constituting, its memory.

Artifacts Across Time: The Portkeys of the Hanukkah-Holocaust Genre

Jewish children's books also transcend ideas of time and space through the imagery of artifacts. A domestic object--a menorah, a doll, a potato, a flower--can be used as a device that connects characters of different generations and different nations. (47) Memorabilia, artifacts, souvenirs ... all of these tangible reminders of past events are important both within and beyond historical children's books. Artifacts are portable, more flexible than spaces; by "storing memories," these artifacts" allow us to live in the present while at the same time literally 'cling' to the past." (48) Like the portkeys of the Harry Potter universe, they transport their bearers to a different memory space--sometimes quite literally.(49) Material memory objects are particularly laced with nostalgia, with images of hope or celebration.

Even when a family artifact does not survive materially, it survives in memory. This is the case in Myron Levoy's The Hanukkah of Great Uncle Otto, which has been printed as a full volume of its own and as one of the stories in The Kids' Catalog of Hanukkah. The Hanukkah of Great-Uncle Otto contains some of the most explicit discussions of memory in the Hanukkah-Holocaust books. The story details the relationship between a boy named Joshua and his aging great-uncle Otto, who survived the Holocaust and now lives with Joshua and his parents. Here, Uncle Otto, who, like the grandfather in The Magic Menorah, is saddened and remote at a time of celebration, tells his great-nephew about the menorah he was forced to leave behind in Germany, and contrasts it with the family's contemporary candelabra:
  Oh, yes, yes. A very nice Menorah. Modern. Streamlined. No
  decorations. No curves or bends. Bur I'm going to make a
  different kind of menorah. In my menorah, the stems for the
  candles will twist like flowers on a vine, like that menorah
  I told you about, the menorah of my childhood. When we escaped
  from Germany, we couldn't take anything. Not our clothes, not our
  dishes, nothing. Not even my father's menorah. Thank God I was
  able to come to your parents here in America ... Yes, I'm going to
  try to make that menorah come back to life. For your father and
  mother to give to you someday, and then for you to give to your
  children someday. That will be my gift. (50)


When materiality is lost, Otto states, generational connections suffer; objects must be handed down. Uncle Otto overcomes silence through the intervention of his own creativity and the crafting of the resurrected menorah; in the process of its creation, he tells Joshua stories. Otto thus fulfills Walter Benjamin's observations about the connections among storytelling, craft, and community; according to Benjamin, the repetition of handiwork enables the teller to speak freely and the listener to receive the memories that are conveyed: "The more self-forgetful the listener is, the more deeply is what he listens to impressed upon his memory. When the rhythm of work has seized him, he listens to the tales in such a way that the gift of telling them comes to him all by itself."(51) Through the rhythm of creating a new-old menorah, Uncle Otto narrates his story. The materiality of the artifact, and, in this specific case, of creating a new artifact, an echoing object, becomes vital for the practice of memory. (52)

Similarly, in Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "The Power of Light," a candle and a dreidel both serve as artifacts linking time-spaces and, once again, memory is preserved with an eye turned toward the future. The story is about two teenagers, Daniel and Rebecca, who survive for a time while hiding in the burned-out wreckage of the Warsaw Ghetto. Inspired by the light of a single Chanukah candle, they set out to escape Warsaw and join the partisans. The candle is given the power of meaning at the story's turning point precisely because of its warm materiality: "That glimmer of light, surrounded by so many shadows, seemed to say without words: Evil has not yet taken complete dominion. A spark of hope is still left." (53) Ultimately, David and Rebecca do reach the partisans, who are celebrating the eighth night of Hanukkah in the forest, playing with a wooden dreidel on a tree stump. The partisans help them escape to Israel, where they study, are married, and have a child, ultimately telling their story to the narrator one Hanukkah night eight years later.

The two temporally distant Hanukkahs are physically joined by the presence of the wooden dreidel that the partisans once spun in the forest, which David and Rebecca still own. Rebecca ascribes both their successful escape and the future meaning of that escape to the story's objects:
  If it had nor been for that little candle David brought to our
  hiding place, we wouldn't be sitting here today. That glimmer
  of light awakened in us a hope and strength we didn't know
  we possessed. We'll give the dreidel to Menahem Eliezer [their son]
  when he is old enough to understand what we went through and
  how miraculously we were saved. (54)


Memory artifacts thus presume a future generation that will inherit the objects in question. Memory, once again, becomes a concern chiefly when there are children who must learn how their very existence came to be and who must preserve the vestige of their parents' trials and celebrations in a tactile form, even (perhaps especially) in the form of a plaything.

All of This Has Happened Before, All of This Will Happen Again: Memory, Religion and Cycles of Violence (55)

The conflation of Hanukkah and the Holocaust in Jewish children's literature encapsulates a much broader trend in the history of American, and, indeed, world Jewry: the re-reading of Jewish history through the lens of Holocaust narratives. (56) Read backwards onto earlier tropes of Jewish history, the Holocaust expands the shadow of persecution in Jewish memory until it becomes all-encompassing, As James Young notes in Writing and Re-Writing the Holocaust:
  Where the shtetl Jews during the Holocaust may have initially
  perceived their lot in terms of a ghastly--but relatively
  limited--pogrom, many of the survivors--their understanding
  of Jewish persecution now enlarged to include the enormity
  of the Holocaust--tend to perceive new persecutions in terms
 of the "permanent pogrom" they have known. (57)


This "permanent pogrom" in the minds of actual survivors is similar to the virtual pogrom that has become part of the "fantasies of witnessing" the Holocaust in the minds of contemporary Americans. (58) The emergence of the Hanukkah-Holocaust complex in American children's books must be read within the broader context of Holocaust commemoration in the United States. Over the past thirty years, the development of the Holocaust as a major facet of American Jewish identity and as a phenomenon memorialized by Americans of many religious traditions has occurred in a wide range of venues. The scale, saturation level, and tone of some of these Holocaust commemorations have led some critics to level charges of the "Americanization of the Holocaust." (59) When American children, both Jewish and non-Jewish, read about Jews, chances are, they are reading about the Holocaust. Tellingly, in my frequent examinations of the bestseller lists of children's books about "Judaism" on Amazon.com, several Holocaust books, including Six Million Paper Clips and Hana's Suitcase, tended to top the lists; in fact, on one day in June 2008, all five children's top-sellers under "Judaism" were about the Holocaust. (60) At one point in 2007, the re-release of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, a time-travel book that combines Passover with the Holocaust, was the number one bestseller on Barnes and Nobles' online store in the entire category of children's books on religion. (61) In some years, books with Holocaust-related content have dominated the Sydney Taylor awards for Jewish Children's Literature. (62) Clearly, the Holocaust is still captivating parents, librarians, publishers, and, it seems, children.

As Gary Weissman argues, in a culture that is saturated with images of the Holocaust, but in which the last remaining survivors of the events of World War II are aging, many Americans are eager for experiences that will make the Holocaust more "real" to them. (63) In Hanukkah-Holocaust stories, children imbibe twin imperatives--"Remember the Maccabees! Remember the Holocaust!" They are asked to imagine themselves into these very different tales of violence and, in some cases, resistance. The Holocaust becomes "closer" when it is narrated alongside a much more chronologically distant but also more triumphant tale. Holocaust tales enlist Hanukkah as a partner because they share a story of persecution, but the Hanukkah Story as it is told to children has a "happy ending": goodness prevails, and military might (but not too much military might) overcomes the Seleucid Greeks. Dark winter tales appeal to the specter of violent, empowered Maccabees restoring Jewish national agency. After the Holocaust and especially after 1967 and the Six Day War, the Jewish community has embraced what Rona Sheramy calls "the resister ideal"--an emphasis on heroic Judaism--for its children. (64) Pairing Holocaust narratives, which resist meaning, with "the Hanukkah Story," which in its children's tellings tends towards a clear telos of redemption, tempers the victimization of the Holocaust and sets up a story of national heroics as the chief narrative of Jewish peoplehood, even though the Holocaust itself has led to countless questions about agency and faith. As Liora Gubkin argues, making use of Hayden White's work on history and narrative, stories about the Holocaust are often "emplotted" into the patterns of other stories, particularly the tropes of stories like Hanukkah or like the Exodus narrative--plots that can provide a redemptive denouement for an otherwise un-fathomable story. (65) The Hanukkah-Holocaust conflation is symbiotic: just as Hanukkah's heroics substitute for the lack of agency entailed in some understandings of the Holocaust, the Holocaust serves as a lens for re-reading instances of violence throughout Jewish history.

In many Hanukkah-Holocaust books, the Hanukkah story stands in as a cipher for the Holocaust: it provides a familiar, comforting narrative route to bring readers into the difficult literary terrain of the Shoah. It is not surprising that One Candle, for instance, spends just a few pages "in color," at a present-day Hanukkah party, before working its way back into the sepia story: into the past of the concentration camp. The grayscale images of young women prisoners provide a patina of authenticity for readers, suggesting, as the text's narrator does, that this is the real story of the season. The Holocaust flashback--not Hanukkah--is, in Bunting's work, the not-so-hidden occasion for storytelling. In this way, the contrast of color/sepia stands in for the binary of signifier/signified, reversing the so-called realism of Technicolor: the story that really "is" Hanukkah for the children is the one narrated by their grandmother in black-and-white. In One Candle, as in many other Hanukkah-Holocaust texts, the moment of Hanukkah celebration is a placeholder that stands in for the deeper signified of the Holocaust.

Similarly, narrating the Hasmonean persecution in The Christmas Menorahs prompts a detailed telling of more recent Holocaust destruction; telling about a menorah provides ways for Uncle Otto and Grandpa Abe to slip their young relatives into a stream of Holocaust memories. Like the winding, intertwined vines of Uncle Otto's menorah, the Hanukkah-Holocaust conflation brings together myriad gnarled "textual surfaces" that brush up against one another in complex intertextual moves. (66) In this way, "any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another." (67) Pivoting around a doubled set of speaker and addressee--author/reader, older narrator (Grandpa Abe, Uncle Otto)/young addressee (grandson, great-nephew)--the story of Hanukkah absorbs the tropes of Holocaust commemoration and becomes overwhelmed by such imagery. In Hanukkah-Holocaust stories, Holocaust narratives are not only quoted and transformed: their tropes are enlarged and repeated to the point of textual saturation.

Repetition is not a new phenomenon in the telling of trauma; as Marita Sturken argues, "repetition is a means through which cultures process and make sense of traumatic events. It is caught up in kitsch and the relentless receding of trauma into popular culture narratives, yet it is also evidence of the ways that cultures reenact, sometimes compulsively, moments of traumatic change." (68) The repetitive telling of violence mimics the repetition and pastiche of the textual process itself. "Trauma time" repeats, reiterating past traumas. Textual processes, too, as read by Bakhtin and Kristeva, entail ongoing rejoinders; redundancy is at the core of Bakhtin's "chain" of utterances. (69) Such repetition--the ongoing echo-chamber of re-telling trauma--suggests a mantra from the most recent television incarnation of Battlestar Galactica: "all of this has happened before. All of this will happen again."(70) All of "this"--the Holocaust, the Maccabees, the "haters and bullies"--has happened before, "in" history and in its mediations, particularly those directed at children. As Kathleen Stewart writes, "like a broken record, trauma time repeats what is not directly encountered, known, remembered, or imagined." (71) This duplication is a response to the ruptures of trauma, to the cultural indigestion it provokes, but it leads to a problematic narrative flattening. If violence is presented as eternal, on-going, inevitable, it may well be commemorated, but it escapes critique, intervention, and ethical debate. It becomes emptied of contextual meaning; the textures of history, the individual stories of violence and loss, elude us.

Is there a way to break out of these cycles of pedagogic reverberation? Laura Levitt points toward one possible route by calling for intimacy when engaging with Holocaust narratives; she suggests bringing together "the everyday and the extraordinary" in our encounters with the Holocaust, however difficult and messy this may be. (72) At their most evocative moments, these Hanukkah-Holocaust books do make this move: a potato, an everyday object, can be linked to the extraordinary trauma of the Holocaust through the vehicle of family tellings in Bunting's One Candle. All of this has happened before, such stories suggest, but not precisely--at their strongest moments, Hanukkah-Holocaust stories achieve this level of nuance, but they still do so in tension with other, troublesome glosses. They often trap the past in grayscale, suggesting a sort of stasis to historical stories. Child victims and survivors are heavily represented, in keeping with canonical American tropes of focusing on these victims over others. (73) Children as receivers of these stories are also privileged, eliding the experiences of adults without children and romanticizing the idea that children represent a pure, unwritten future. Yet, in their rare moments of deeper answerability, and in their more challenging passages where gaps, like missing menorahs, are acknowledged, these tales invite us to engage with the Holocaust while still leaving its narratives--like the lives of its victims--un-finalized and unfinished.

This article has benefited from insights and suggestions provided in several different settings. In particular, I thank the two anonymous reviewers for Shofar, as well as respondents and listeners at the American Academy of Religion's Art, Literature and Religion Section and at Columbia University's "Under Construction: History, Identities, and Narrative in the Study of Religion" conference. Any errors contained within are mine and mine alone.

(1) Debbie Galant, "Hare and How to Counter It," The New York Times (April 14,1996): 13NJ; Donna Ezor, "Montana town's fight against hate inspires local author," Metro West Jewish News (December 7,1995): 54; Tom Lackey, "When Hatemongers Came for Minorities, Town Said No," Los Angeles Times (March 6,1994): 4.

(2) Janice Cohn, The Christmas Menorahs: The Town That Fought Hate (Morton Grove, Illinois: Albert Whitman and Company, 1995).

(3) This story is now widely understood to be apocryphal, although it may be consistent in tone with the overall climate of Denmark during the German occupation (Andrew Buckser, "Group Identities and the Construction of the 1943 Rescue of the Danish Jews," Ethnology, Vol. 37, No. 3 [Summer 1998]: 209-226; see especially 211-212).

(4) Laura Levitt, American Jewish Loss After the Holocaust (New York University Press, 2007), p. 67. See also Timothy Cole, Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler, How History is Bought, Packaged, and Sold (New York: Routledge, 2000).

(5) Levitt writes: "The Holocaust tale is revealed in the process of engaging with a more ordinary American story of loss"; as Levitt demonstrates in her readings of her own family's stories alongside Holocaust-provoked art, the reverse is also true (American Jewish Loss After the Holocaust, p. 77).

(6) For the purposes of this article, I am defining the term "Jewish children's book" quite broadly. It can include books by Jews, books directed at Jews, books on Jewish topics, and books published by either Jewish or non-Jewish publishing houses. I have focused on more popular titles.

(7) Penny Schine Gold, Making the Bible Modern: Children's Bibles and Jewish Education in Twentieth-Century America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), pp. 1-21.

(8) Jonathan D. Sarna, JPS: The. Americanization of Jewish Culture, 1888-1988 (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), pp. 34, 86, 290. According to Sarna, it took quite some time for JPS to adapt creatively to the concept of children's literature.

(9) June Cummins has written extensively on Taylor and on the All-of-a-Kind Family books. See especially "Leaning Left: Progressive Politics in Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family Series," Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Winter 2005); "Sydney Taylor: A Centenary Celebration," The Horn Book Magazine, Vol. 81, No. 2 (Mar/April 2005): 231-32; and "Becoming An All-of-a-Kind' American: Sydney Taylor and Strategies of Assimilation," The Lion and the Unicorn, Vol. 27, No. 3 (September 2003): 324-343.

(10) Amazon.com, http;//www.amazon.com/s/qid = 1215115631/ref=sr_nr_n_6?ie = UTF8&rs=3101&bbn=3120&rnid=3101&rh=n%3A4%2Cn%3A3101%2Cn%3A3120 accessed 3 July 2008.

(11) "JBooks.com: Children's Books," http://www.jbooks.com/children/index.htm, accessed 17 July 2008.

(12) Academic studies of Jewish children's books (for non-curricular purposes) have been relatively limited; notably, Jonathan Krasner has written on the history of Jewish children's textbooks and on the beginnings of K'tonton (Jonathan Krasner, "Representations of Self and Other in American Jewish History and Social Studies Schoolbooks: An Exploration of the Changing Shape of American Jewish Identity," Doctoral dissertation, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts [2002]). See also Jonathan Krasner, "A Recipe for American Jewish Integration: The Adventures of K'tonton and Hillel's Happy Holidays," The Lion and the Unicorn, Vol. 27 (2003): 344-361. For the most part, however, this has been an under-examined subject.

(13) Some stories connecting the two events date all the way back to the early years of the tensions that preceded World War II; see, for example, a play with a reference to "Naziland" in Emily Solis-Cohen, Hanukkah: The Feast of Lights (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1937). Although I recognize that the term "Holocaust," a post-war construction, is subject to important genealogies and must be understood critically (the problematics of representing the Nazi massacres as a "sacrifice," etc.), I do use the term throughout this article, as it is the terminology chosen most frequently in the children's books that I study.

(14) Gary Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing: Postwar Efforts to Experience the Holocaust (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2004), pp. 1-28; and Hilene Flanzbaum, ed., The Americanization of the Holocaust (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), pp. 1-14.

(15) Some books that make the Hanukkah-Holocaust connection, many of which I explore below, include: David Adler, One Yellow Daffodil: A Hanukkah Story (New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1995); Eve Bunting, One Candle (New York: Harpercollins, 2002); Karen Hesse, The Stone Lamp: Eight Stories of Hanukkah Through History (New York: Hyperion, 2003); Malka Penn, The Hanukkah Ghosts (New York: Holiday House, 1995); Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Power of Light: Eight Stories for Hanukkah (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1980); Jacques Shore, Menorah in the Night Sky: A Miracle of Chanukah (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2002); Marci Stillerman, Nine Spoons: A Chanukah Story (Brooklyn: Hachai, 1998). All of these books, with the exception of the Singer volume, date to after 1990; the Singer book (like much of his work) has remained quite popular during this time span.

(16) On the history of the Maccabean era, sec Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), and Peter Schafer, The History of the Jews in Antiquity (Luxemburgh: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1995).

(17) Timothy Cole, Selling the Holocaust, p. 90; James E. Young, Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequence of Interpretation (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988).

(18) American teachers have long used holidays as a major part of classroom practice, particularly in the early childhood years. In recent years, there has been much more attention to holidays beyond Christmas and beyond Hanukkah, as greater diversity is recognized in American classrooms; even in cases where many traditions are accepted and represented, teachers emphasize the use of holidays as a fruitful site of contact for intercultural exchange among their students (Michal Elaine Myers, "Holidays in the Public School Kindergarten: An Avenue for Emerging Religious and Spiritual Literacy," Early Childhood Education (Winter 2001/2002), http://findarticles.eom/p/articles/mi qa3614/is 200101/ai n8941976/print, accessed 10 April 2006.

(19) Edward Linenthal, Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995, 2001). See also Cole, Selling the Holocaust, pp. 118-119.

(20) Cole, Selling the Holocaust, p. 75.

(21) Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer, "We Would Not Have Come Without You: Generations of Nostalgia," American Imago, Vol. 59, No. 3 (2002): 253-276. The question of "trauma and nostalgia" is a complex one. Hirsch and Spitzer note that trauma and nostalgia are both separated and intimately connected in the testimony of Holocaust survivors, including Hirsch's own parents. Describing the elder Hirsches' narratives on a trip back to their native city, they write: "It [the crossroads where they had avoided deportation in 1941] is less a location than a transitional space where the encounter between generations, between past and present, between nostalgic and traumatic memory, can momentarily, effervescently, be staged" (p. 276). Although nostalgia can be criticized (as I often do here) for its romanticizing, rosy glosses, Hirsch and Spitzer argue that a past seen through nostalgia can also have a utopian aspect, inspiring us to improve what the present lacks (pp. 258-259).

(22) For various theories of trauma and language, see Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (New York: Rout-ledge, 1992).

(23) In Toward a Philosophy of the Act and Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, Bakhtin advances the idea of "unfinalizeability," which, as Caryl Emerson notes, is "the all-purpose carrier of his conviction that the world is not only a messy place, it is also an open place" (Caryl Emerson and Gary Saul Morson, Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990], p. 36).To" finalize" the understanding of an actor experience is to lose one's "answerability" toward it, to elide its open-ended meaning and also to limit one's empathy towards that object. To finish something, monologically, is to limit its multivocal nature, and also the very ideas of freedom and creative potential more generally. "Acts," in Bakhtin's thought (loosely put) are only whole in their full sense of experience and being; they are bifurcated if there is too much separation between "the world of culture and the world of life" (Mikhail Bakhtin, Toward a Philosophy of the Act, trans. Vadim Liapunov [Austin: University of Texas, 1994], p. 2; M.M. Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, trans. Caryl Emerson [Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984]). For a general introduction to Bakhtin's works, see Emerson and Morson, Creation of a Prosaics.

(24) Marla Morris, Curriculum and the Holocaust: Competing Sites of Memory and Representation (Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001), p. 87.

(25) Mikhail Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, trans. Vern W. McGee (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), pp. 65-69.

(26) In Vygotsky social behavior in relationship to the signs and tools of objects is a crucial part of the development of memory and thought; the "interfunctional relation between word and action," and thus the tools of action, is crucial (Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria, "Tool and Symbol in Child Development," in Rene Van der Veer and Jaan Valsiner, eds., The Vygotsky Reader [Oxford: Blackwell, 1994], p. 167).

(27) Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (New York: Dell, 1966).

(28) Cohn, The Christmas Menorahs, p. 17.

(29) Karen Hesse and Brian Pinkney, The Stone Lamp: Eight Stories of Hanukkah Through History (New York: Hyperion, 2003).

(30) Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zahor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1982), p. 17.

(31) Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), pp. 49-50.

(32) Eve Bunting, One Candle; Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Power of Light; Eight Stories for Hanukkah.

(33) Domestic spaces have been particularly deconstructed in the genre of the young adult "problem novel," in which many characters experience domestic abuse, desertion, and other traumas. The book usually credited with launching the widespread growth of this genre is S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders (New York: Puffin, 1967).

(34) David Adler, One Yellow Daffodil: A Hanukkah Story (New York: Voyager Books, 1999).

(35) Malka Penn, The Hanukkah Ghosts (New York: Avon, 1997).

(36) Penn, The Hanukkah Ghosts, p. 29.

(37) This mistrust of the reality of what one learns in school, with Americans taking the first-person testimonies of relatives much more to heart than the discourses of teachers, is demonstrative of many Americans' attitudes towards history, as described in Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen's The Presence of the Past (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998).

(38) In The Secret Garden, Mary Lennox, another orphaned girl in an echoing English country home, discovers her hidden-away cousin, Colin, while wandering the hallways of her uncle's mansion; she becomes alerted to Colin's presence because she hears him crying (Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden [New York: HarperCollins 1962, originally published 1911], pp. 128-143).

(39) Bakhtin's work has had a tremendous influence on literary criticism and cultural criticism more generally since Julia Kristeva invoked him in her coinage of the term "intertextuality" in the late 1960s (Julia Kristeva, "Word, Dialogue and Novel," in Toril Moi, ed., The Kristeva Reader [New York: Columbia University Press, 1986]). As Caryl Emerson notes, in the Bakhtin-craze that followed in the 1980s, "dialogue" and "carnival" were suddenly discovered to be everywhere; she notes that the field of Bakhtinian criticism (and pedagogy) has since matured, and she suggests that future use of Bakhtin, both in the classroom and in scholarship, must attend to Bakhtin's full corpus of works (including his earlier ones, which were translated into English last) (Caryl Emerson, "The Next Hundred Years of Mikhail Bakhtin [The View from the Classroom]," Rhetoric Review, Vol. 19, No. 1 [Autumn 2000]: 12-27).

(40) Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, p. 69.

(41) Marianne Hirsch, "Projected Memory: Holocaust Photographs in Personal and Public Fantasy," in Mieke Bal, Jonathan Crewe, and Leo Spitzer, eds., Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present (Hanover: Dartmouth University Press, 1999), p. 9.

(42) According to Halbwachs, all memory takes place within the boundaries of social frameworks (On Collective Memory, pp. 52-53). As the field of "memory studies" has developed, many scholars have criticized Halbwachs' Durkheimian focus on the collective over the individual, while remaining indebted to his work. For a summary of the field, see Wulf Kansteiner," Finding Meaning in Memory: A Methodological Critique of Collective Memory Studies," History and Theory, Vol. 41, No. 2 (May 2002): 179-197.

(43) Jane Breskin Zalben, The Magic Menorah: A Modern Chanukah Tale (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001), p. 2.

(44) Ruth Minsky Sender, "Hanukkah in 1944, a True Story," in David A. Adler, The Kids' Catalog of Hanukkah (Philadelphia; the Jewish Publication Society, 2004), p. 26.

(45) Hirsch and Spitzer, "We Would Not Have Come Without You," p, 273.

(46) M. M. Bakhtin, Towards a Philosophy of the Act, p. 15. Much of Bakhtin's theory on empathy in Philosophy of the Act is strikingly similar to Martin Buber's theology of the I-Thou. Martin Buber, I and Thou (second edition) (New York: Scribner, 1958).

(47) This device is by no means unique to Jewish children's books--it can be found in countless other texts, e.g. in the form of Proust's famous madeleine. See also Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl (New York: Vintage, 1990).

(48) Eviatar Zerubavel, Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), p. 43.

(49) On memory places, see Pierre Nora, "Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire," Representations, Vol. 26 (1989).

(50) Myron Levoy, "The Hanukkah of Great-Uncle Otto" in Adler, ed., A Kids' Catalog of Hanukkah, pp. 85-86.

(51) Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 1986), p. 91.

(52) The use of objects to call up moments from the past is not unique to American Jewish juvenile literature; Yael Zerubavel has also noted a trope in Israeli children's books where material items call "back" heroes from the ancient past, who mystically appear in the present (Yael Zerubavel, "Transhistorical Encounters in the Land of Israel: On Symbolic Bridges, National Memory, and the Literary Imagination, "Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 11. No. 3 [Summer 2005]: 115-140).

(53) Singer, "The Power of Light," p. 57.

(54) Singer, "The Power of Light," p. 60.

(55) With apologies to Ronald D. Moore and the writers of Battlestar Galactica.

(56) Zerubavel, Recovered Roots, p. 187; Levitt, American Jewish Loss After the Holocaust, pp. xiii, 204, et al. Levitt cautions that American Jewish encounters with Holocaust narratives are not static, nor are the narratives themselves (p. 204).

(57) Young, Writing and Re-Writing the Holocaust, pp. 92-93.

(58) Gary Weismann, Fantasies of Witnessing: Postwar Efforts to Experience the Holocaust (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004).

(59) Cole, Selling the Holocaust, p. 14; Flanzbaum, ed., The Americanization of the Holocaust; Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999).

(60) "Amazon.com," http://www.amazon.com/s/qid=1215616706/ref=sr_pg_1?ie=UTF8&rs=3120&bbn=3120&bbn=3120&rh=n%3A4%2Cn%3A3101%2Cn%3A3120&page=1, accessed June 26, 2008. The top books on that day were: 1. Survivor. True Stories of Children in the Holocaust, by Allan Zullo; 2. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss; 3. Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story, by Lila Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan; 4. Hana's Suitcase, by Karen Levine; 5. Six Million Paper Clips. The top-sellers in Jewish children's books are frequently Holocaust-related, although the Sammy the Spider series (one of K'tonton's major stars) and Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen are also frequently high on the list.

(61) Barnes and Nobles Booksellers, www.bn.com, accessed January 10, 2007; Jane Yolen, The Devil's Arithmetic (New York: Puffin Classics, 2004). The book was originally published in 1988. It has also been adapted into a feature him starring Kirsten Dunst, which may have also fueled its recent popularity (The Devil's Arithmetic, dir. Donna Deitch, 97 min., 2004, DVD [Showtime Entertainment]). For a nuanced reading of the film, see Liora Gubkin, You Shall Tell Your Children: Holocaust Memory in American Passover Ritual (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007), pp. 11-33.

(62) Out of 149 books honored by the awards since 1968, 39 have been directly about the Holocaust, while numerous other books have dealt with persecution in Russia and other regions. Association of Jewish Libraries, "Sydney Taylor Book Award," http://www.jewishlibraries.org/ajlweb/awards/st_books.htm, accessed 10 May 2007.

(63) Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing, pp. 1-27.

(64) Rona Sheramy, "Resistance and War: The Holocaust in American Jewish Education, 1945-1960," American Jewish History, Vol. 91, No. 2 (June 2003): 287-313.

(65) Gubkin, You Shall Tell Your Children, pp. 77-86.

(66) The idea of "textual surfaces" comes from Julia Kristeva's readings of Bakhtin (Kristeva, "Word, Dialogue and Novel," p. 36).

(67) Kristeva, "Word, Dialogue and Novel," p. 37.

(68) Marita Sturken, Tourists of History: Memory. Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), p. 29.

(69) Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, p. 69.

(70) Battlestar Galactica, Episode 1.10: "Hand of God," written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson. Original airdate March 11, 2005. Transcript available at http://www.twiztv.com/scripts/battlestar/season1/galactica-110.htm. Accessed 21 July 2008.

(71) Kathleen Stewart, "Trauma Time: A Still Life," in Daniel Rosenberg and Susan Harding, eds., Histories of the Future (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), p. 328.

(72) Levitt, American Jewish Loss After the Holocaust, p. xxvii.

(73) Mark M. Anderson, "The Child Victim as Witness to the Holocaust: An American Story?," Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Fall 2007): 1-22. Anderson argues that stories of children were some of the first Holocaust narratives to be embraced by the American public, in part because such figures appeared more vulnerable and provoked more empathy than adult Jewish victims.
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Date:Mar 22, 2010
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