NPR's annual celebration of the Jewish festival of lights continues this year with a new crop of original fiction — characters from varied walks of life find comfort and meaning in the traditions of Hanukkah. Readings by Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz bring the holiday stories to life.
'Potatoes' by Tova Mirvis
A lonely and alienated immigrant finds hope for the future, while searching for potatoes for her family's Hanukkah latkes. Author Tova Mirvis was born and raised in Memphis, the setting for her first novel, The Ladies Auxiliary. Her second novel, The Outside World, follows the lives of two Jewish families.
'Looking In: A Holiday Story' by Ehud Havazelet
At odds with his father and dreading the family Hanukkah celebration, a confused college student gains confidence through an unlikely encounter in bustling, Christmas-obsessed Manhattan. Writer Ehud Havazelet is the author of two story collections and the novel Bearing the Body. He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim, Whiting and Rockefeller Foundations, and he teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Oregon.
'Cambridge 1975' by Joan Leegant
A cynical young reporter attending a Hanukkah season meeting of angry rabbis' daughters, finds new clarity after a mysterious encounter brings her face-to-face with overlooked traditions. Joan Leegant's story collection An Hour in Paradise won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for Jewish Fiction and was a finalist for the 2004 National Jewish Book Award.
'Meryl' by Rachel Kadish
Ensconced in a nursing home, an elderly woman, feared by her own daughter, realizes that the Hanukkah spirit of rededication can apply not just to an ancient temple, but to a life as well. Award-winning author Rachel Kadish is the author of the novels From a Sealed Room and Tolstoy Lied: a Love Story. She has been a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and a writer in residence at Stanford University.