Hanukkah is a celebration of the Maccabees victory over the Greeks, and the rededication the Second Temple. The menorah is the centerpiece of Hanukkah festivities. It is a time to celebrate love and family, tradition, and tradition.

Susan Stamberg, Murray Horwitz, and Ellen Orleans revisit old favorites, as well as those of Rebecca Newberger Goldstein and Ellen Orleans. This is the 31st anniversary Hanukkah Lights. You can listen to the entire special above, or each story below.


“Hanukkah Gelt” by Sholem Aleichem

Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916) was a beloved Yiddish writer, humorist, and noted for his many stories about life in the shtetl. Aleichem was a prolific writer who published many successful novels and plays. Perhaps his most notable works are his fictional confessions, letters, and monologues in the voices ordinary religious Jews. Tevye, the Dairyman is the most well-known of these voices. His stories were immortalized by the Broadway musical Fiddler On the Roof.

“Hanukkah Gelt” tells the funny story of two brothers who collect Hanukkah money for all their relatives.

“Gifts of the Last Night,” Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein studied at Princeton University, Columbia University and Barnard College. She also received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in philosophy. She is a professor of philosophy and also writes fiction. Her first novel, The Mind-Body Problem was her debut. She also wrote non-fiction books such as Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave us Modernity and Plato At the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Will Not Go Away. She is a MacArthur Fellow, the so-called “genius award,” and a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences. President Obama awarded her the National Medal of the Humanities in 2015.

“Gifts of the Last Night” tells the story of strange forces that haunt the Upper West Side during Hanukkah’s last night. It includes the most amazing of them all: the spirit of generousity.

Ellen Orleans – “How to Spell God’s Name”

Ellen Orleans is the author five books on LGBT humor and social commentary. In 2022, her book of short stories on Caribou Ranch Open Space and Mother Blue, as well as her memoir Inside and The World is Orange,, will be published.

Original airing of “How to Spell the Name of God” was in 2019. It centers on a girl who loves words but is struggling to spell the most complex of them all.

“Of Love and Latkes” by Lia Pripstein

Lia Pripstein was raised in Israel and born in the Soviet Union. Her English-language works were published in JewishFiction.net and Bacopa Literary Review, with more to come in New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting Holocaust. Recent work includes a political thriller that is sophisticated and set against the backdrop the Israeli-Palestinian war.

Her story, “Of Love And Latkes”, was featured on NPR’s Hanukkah Lights 2016 and she is thrilled to have it included on the program’s favorites list for 2021.

Marie B. Jaffe translated “Erev Krimes” by Clement Clarke Moore.

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863) was an American educator and scholar. He was an American scholar and educator who taught at the General Theological Seminary, New York City. His specialties were in Greek and Eastern literature.

Marie Jaffe translated “A Visit From St. Nicholas” into Yiddish for our 1991 broadcast. This is Moore’s most well-known work. The poem was first published December 23, 1823. It describes a father who witnesses Saint Nicholas bring gifts to his children on Christmas Eve. This poem helped to establish Saint Nicholas as the joyous, plump, and toy-bearing figure in American Christmas traditions.