A Hanukkah whimsy for whimsical Jewish families. "Why for eight nights, in the candlelight, are the latkes laughing?" The uninitiated reader will learn, in time, that latkes are potato pancakes; but the rhetorical questions put forth in answer to the central query presume that "we" know what we're talking about: "Does a latke laugh for joy because our temple in Jerusalem was not destroyed? Do potato pancakes celebrate the might of Judah Maccabee? Do they picture in Israel, two thousand years later, former Prime Minister Golda Meir also frying latkes?" No one but Goffstein could get away with this dry drollery--the laughing latkes are impish without being the least arch--but then no one else would dream it up. And why are the latkes laughing? "Because they're potatoes!" At which we see them laughing all the harder--at us. The right Jewish families will relish it as an affectionate spoof of the practice of posing a question in answer to a question, and as a very untraditional, unhackneyed evocation of the holiday; non-Jewish parents of a subtle turn of mind may also be intrigued.