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Hanukkah Storytime + Sing-Along

December 11, 2022 • 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Join us for an interactive Hanukkah storytime with two Sephardic children’s authors (one local, one world-renowned) as they share their Jewish Cuban family stories. Julie Anna Blank (“Hanukkah in Little Havana”) and Ruth Behar (“Tía Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey”) read their beautifully illustrated books for us. Then we’ll sing Hanukkah songs together, including Ladino/Sephardic favorite “Ocho Kandelikas.” You can also make a Hanukkah menorah out of snacks to enjoy during the event! Books make great Hanukkah presents, and the event is free with purchase.

In partnership with Jewish Book Council.
Sponsored by Samis Foundation.


$5 (under age 2 FREE)
FREE with book purchase:

  • $15 Book: “Hanukkah in Little Havana”
  • $20 Book: “Tía Fortuna’s New Home”

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About the Books

“Hanukkah in Little Havana,” by Julie Anna Blank
Every December, a little girl in Maryland looks forward to receiving a crate of oranges from her grandparents in Miami, but this year is even better. The family is taking a road trip to visit Nonna and Nonno in Florida! Once there, they pick grapefruit and oranges under the sun. They dance the salsa and play in the waves at the beach. Best of all, they celebrate Hanukkah together. The girls help Nonna make latkes, and buñuelos stuffed with almonds and guava jelly. It’s eight days of light and love.

Based on the author’s fond memories of road trips down I-95 to her grandparents’ bungalow in Miami Beach, Carlos Velez Aguilera’s vibrant illustrations bring those Florida Hanukkahs to life for past and present generations.

“Tía Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey,” by Ruth Behar
In “Tía Fortuna’s New Home,” evoca­tive pic­tures by Devon Holzwarth accom­pa­ny author Ruth Behar’s own sto­ry: the rela­tion­ship between a young girl and her Cuban-exile aunt liv­ing in Florida. Many Jews left Cuba in the years after the rev­o­lu­tion of 1959. Now Tía For­tu­na is in the process of leav­ing her Miami home for an assist­ed liv­ing facil­i­ty. Con­front­ed with the inevitabil­i­ty of this event, she wise­ly tells her niece: “Estrel­la, it’s time to say good­bye and wish for mazal bueno.” Chil­dren read­ing the book will learn about Sephardic cul­ture and also feel reas­sured that Tía Fortuna’s atti­tude will enable her to adjust to a new life…again. The book depicts Tía Fortuna’s arrival in Flori­da with noth­ing more than a sin­gle suit­case and a mezuzah. The blue and green of the sea, along with pas­tel and jew­el tones, pro­vide the visu­al back­ground for Tía Fortuna’s odyssey.

About the Authors

Julie Anna Blank
After a childhood of moving every few years, author Julie Anna Blank has enjoyed staying put in her Pacific Northwest home where she is a school librarian. Born into a military family, she spent her childhood in Caracas, Venezuela. When her dad was transferred from South America to Virginia, she felt like a fish out of water, but family trips to visit her grandparents in Miami were a relaxing retreat where Spanish was spoken and she enjoyed her grandmother’s fantastic holiday cooking. As an adult, Blank realized there were no books that described her family’s Sephardic traditions and the Ladino language she learned in “Little Havana” during those Hanukkah visits. Now, as a teacher librarian in Washington’s San Juan Islands, her book sheds light on one of many ways to be Jewish and share her fond memories with today’s children.

Ruth Behar
Ruth Behar was born in Havana, Cuba, to a mixed Ashke­­nazi-Sephardic fam­i­ly and was the first Lati­na to win a MacArthur Genius Grant. She has explored the Jew­ish Cuban expe­ri­ence in sev­er­al books for both chil­dren and adults. A cul­tur­al anthro­pol­o­gist, poet, and fic­tion writer, she is currently the James W. Fer­nan­dez Dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, Ann Arbor.

Ticket Details + Policies

  • General admission | Doors open 30 min. before showtime
  • No outside food allowed.
  • Processing fees apply at checkout
  • Please view our Welcome Back page for current venue policies, including vaccination requirements and mask policies.
  • Patrons agree to all SJCC terms and conditions above and at SJCC Box Office + Venue Policies Page.

Need Help?
Contact BoxOffice@sjcc.org | 206.388.0833 (email is best for a quick response!)
(response time: 24 hrs weekdays – 48 hrs weekends)



Stroum JCC
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Stroum Jewish Community Center
3801 E Mercer Way
Mercer Island, WA United States
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