By: Deborah Bodin Cohen
Illustrated by: Shahar Kober
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Reviewed by: June Maffin
Review Date: November 21, 2011
Ari was a train engineer. Hanukkah was about to begin and Ari was eager to quickly get to the home of his engineer friends, Nathaniel and Jessie to share this important celebration with them. Ari was bringing presents – sufganiyot (delicious jelly donuts), a bag of Turkish coins, a dreidel (a spinning top with four letters that stand for “a great miracle happened here”) and a Hanukkiah (a candelabra that holds candles that are lit on the eight nights of Hanukkah). As Ari drove the train to Jaffa, he began to daydream of Nathaniel’s potato latkes and Jessie’s voice singing the ritual Hanukkah blessings and he was distracted from driving the train. Then he saw it --- a camel, sitting on the railroad tracks! Ari stopped the train – just in time! Whew! “Garumf” grunted the camel sitting on the tracks. The camel was fine. The train was not. And the gifts Ari was bringing were spread out on the ground. What to do?
Then, Kalil, the owner of the camel, arrived. He was upset that his camel had caused the accident and helped Ari pick up the Hanukkah gifts. As they were picking up the Turkish coins, Ari noticed a very unusual coin. It wasn’t one of his Turkish coins; it was a Maccabean coin. The accident had happened in the place where the Maccabees had lived long ago - where the miracle of Hanukkah had begun!
The scattered Hanukkah gifts were picked up quickly and Ari, the devout Jew, invited Kalil, his new devout Muslim friend, to join him in celebrating Hanukkah.
When Ari was finally reunited with his friends, Nathaniel and Jessie, he said “Miracles can still happen” because two men from such different backgrounds came together in a special place to celebrate such a special occasion. And the camel’s response? “Garumf!”
Quill says: This imaginative story of two different traditions, two different faiths, two different men united in a new friendship celebrating a Jewish holiday rich with history and meaning will delight children between the ages of four to seven.