JASON’S MIRACLE by Beryl Lieff Benderly


A Hanukkah Story
Age Range: 9 - 12
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At 12, studying for his bar mitzvah, Jason Cohen doesn’t consider himself a kid anymore. So why does he feel so mixed up about Hanukkah and not celebrating Christmas? What relevance can it possibly have to a modern kid’s life? Late that night, he finds a young intruder, Aaron ben Moshe, who has been sent from Judea to find a member of the Cohen tribe. Judah, the Judean leader, needs help, and only a Cohen will do. Jason gets caught up in Aaron’s excitement, and quickly packs some peanut butter, bananas, bread, a flashlight, and his new binoculars. He follows Aaron and is soon transported back to Judea. There are sentries—is Jason a spy? They aren’t sure—after all, the name Jason is Greek. That’s just his cover name, he tells them; he has a good Hebrew name, Joseph ben David HaKohen. Is using a different name a part of what his dad meant about people accommodating a conqueror’s demands? Understanding that concept is a fairly large step for Jason to take, and it’s handled almost as a throwaway line. This happens a lot, and if the reader doesn’t pay attention, some of the more sophisticated concepts may be overlooked. Benderly’s descriptions of Judah Maccabee as a dynamic leader are very strong. An awful lot of history has to be explained very fast, and she manages that quite well, too. Jason’s modern “smarts,” and the things he takes for granted (like multiplication and that flashlight), make the story move quickly. The only trouble comes in Jason’s quick return home. Suddenly it’s morning, and he wakes up in his own bed, having been gone only one night. And now he’s able to reconcile his father’s view of the Hanukkah miracle with what he knows actually happened. He’s matured about three years. Of course, good time-travel can do that, but this is a bit forced. Preachy, it doesn’t hold a candle to the slimmer Time Warp adventures. (history and math notes) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8075-3781-0
Page count: 114pp
Publisher: Whitman
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2000