My three daughters, Meera, Flory, and Lelia, are close in age. Often during their early years, we snuggled together on our old beige corduroy couch and worked our way through piles of picture books. Before they went to sleep, my husband, Rody, and I read to them. And sometimes, when they were a bit older and he was away, I read aloud in the hall between all their rooms, camp style.
In those happy golden years of our shared reading, we would inevitably hit upon a part of a book that made us collectively take pause—later I dubbed this the “aha” moment. That’s when we discovered Madeline, Babar, and even Harry Potter celebrated Christmas. And being Jewish, we didn’t.
This started me writing about a character who later became Gabi Greenberg. In my book The Hanukkah Trike, Gabi lights the menorah, eats latkes, and helps tell the story of the Maccabee army’s miraculous victory. The next day, after falling off her new trike—a Hanukkah gift—her spunk and determination get her back in the saddle again. Remembering the story of the Maccabees, Gabi musters her courage, and with a skinned knee and a pebble-studded hand, she pushes those pedals again and again, until she takes off down the street.
The Hanukkah Trike is a quiet little story for young children. It could be any child’s story of perseverance.
Each one of my daughters helped me create Gabi. Each one gave me reason to write The Hanukkah Trike. And our years of reading together made me want a spirited character like them. Presenting Gabi Greenberg, lover of latkes and all things Hanukkah. Brave like the Maccabees.