A Hanukkah story: My first book published
By JOELLE BURNETTE
Rohnert Park Correspondent
My first book, “Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree,” has been published online just in time for Hanukkah that began this week and teaches tolerance and diversity along with some of the holiday’s history and various traditions.
My book is a story about a boy who is the only Jewish child in a classroom adorned with Christmas holiday decorations. His mother brings all the fixings for a Hanukkah party and a fun way for the children to learn about the Jewish holiday.
In this Hanukkah poem that starts as a twist on the classic “Night Before Christmas” poem, the mother is proud of her son who is the catalyst for tolerance and change when he inadvertently teaches his classmates about diversity and how it feels to be singled out.
The boy’s classmates learn there are more religions than their own, as well as a diversity of holiday celebrations; each deserving of respect.
Told from a young boy’s perspective, the story is based on my son’s experience when he was very young in a Rohnert Park elementary school. It was he who stood up in his class when he was very young to tell some of the history of Hanukkah and why it is important.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, like many children, I faced the same issues related to being the only Jewish child in a classroom where everyone else celebrated Christmas; even class worksheets were Christmas-themed.
When I had my own children, I wanted to make sure they never felt alone in their classrooms during the holiday season. I hosted Hanukkah parties every year from preschool through elementary school.
While my children generally were the only Jews in their classrooms, their classmates respected and embraced their varying approaches to celebrating the holidays (and loved the fresh latkes I‘d cook in class — the recipe is included in the back of the book).
It is my hope, in telling the story about this young boy, other Jewish children won’t feel alone in their classrooms, and anyone who isn’t Jewish will become empathetic to their situation and embrace diversity.
My book is available for purchase online in Amazon’s Kindle store, the Barnes and Noble Nook store and Smashwords. It is expected to be available soon in the Apple iBooks and Google eBooks catalogs, as well.
I hope you enjoy the book and have a wonderful holiday season!