Toby Belfer never had a Christmas tree. Hers was the only Jewish family in the little country town where she lived with her parents and grandmother. The Belfers celebrated Hanukkah—they didn’t celebrate Christmas like the rest of the families in town. Toby invited all of her friends to join in her family’s Hanukkah celebration, just as she joined in theirs by trimming their Christmas trees and singing Christmas carols.
With Toby and her family as their hosts, all of the children of the town learned about Hanukka and about the unique and fascinating traditions and customs that all Jewish families share. They learned about the menorah and the special blessings to offer the Lord when lighting the menorah candles; they learned how to play a traditional Jewish game by spinning a top called a dreidel; and they learned the story of how the Jewish people gained religious freedom. All of the children had a wonderful time learning and listening and playing games and eating scrumptious food! In the end, everyone was happy that Toby Belfer never had a Christmas tree.
This delightful tale is an explanation of Hanukkah and how one family celebrated the holiday in a small, non-Jewish, Southern town. For children 5-8, the book includes the complete rules for the game of dreidel, and instructions for building a menorah.
About the Author
Gloria Teles Pushker was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received a BA from Loyola University in New Orleans, and later earned a master of education degree with a concentration in children’s literature from the University of New Orleans.
About the Illustrator
Judith Hierstein couples the words with images, bringing Toby’s world to life. After earning a BA in art from the University of Iowa, Hierstein realized that illustrating was a great way to encourage children to learn about other cultures. Ms. Hierstein resides in Waterloo, Iowa.
TOBY BELFER NEVER HAD A CHRISTMAS TREE
By Gloria Teles Pushker
Illustrated by Judith Hierstein
32 pp. 8 1/2 x 11