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Hanukkah Lights 2023

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
/
AFP via Getty Images

For 34 years, each Hanukkah season, Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz have been sharing stories about light, stories they hope bring a little light to the lives of listeners. This year, Hanukkah Lights returns with some of their favorite stories from the archives as well as something new.

Hanukkah has a special resonance in 2023, when darkness in the world threatens to overwhelm us at times. The festival of lights commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, the lighting of the menorah and the spiritual strength of the Jewish people. It's a time to celebrate family, tradition, miracles and mitzvahs.

On Hanukkah Lights this year, you'll hear the stories "The Two Menorahs" by Daniel Mark Epstein, "Stabbing an Elephant" by Max Apple, "For The Ghosts" by Anne Burt and "The First Hanukkah" by Andy Borowitz. The show ends with a special Tiny Desk performance by The LeeVees.

Listen to the full special above or hear individual stories below.

"The Two Menorahs" by Daniel Mark Epstein

Daniel Mark Epstein is an award-winning poet, biographer and dramatist whose works include Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington, Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson and the international best-seller The Ballad of Bob Dylan. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1948, he was educated at Kenyon College. In the 1970s, his poetry first appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and The New Republic. His first volume of poems was published by Liveright in 1973. His plays appeared soon thereafter in regional theater and off-Broadway, and in 1978, he received the Prix de Rome for his poetry and dramatic works.

"Stabbing an Elephant" by Max Apple

Max Apple has published three collections of stories and two books of nonfiction: Roommates: My Grandfather's Story and I Love Gootie: My Grandmother's Story. Roommates was made into a film, as were two other screenplays: Smokey Bites the Dust and The Air Up There. Five of his books have been New York Times "Notable Books." His stories and essays are widely anthologized and have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, many literary magazines, The Best American Short Stories and The Best Spiritual Writing Series. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

"For The Ghosts" by Anne Burt

Anne Burt's debut novel, The Dig, is a 2023 American Booksellers' Association "Indie Next" pick and was the Strand Book Store's mystery selection of the month for March. Anne is also the editor of My Father Married Your Mother: Dispatches from the Blended Family and coeditor, with Christina Baker Kline, of About Face: Women Write About What They See When They Look in the Mirror. She is a past winner of Meridian's editors' prize in fiction.

"The First Hanukkah" by Andy Borowitz

Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. In 2001, he created the Borowitz Report, a satirical news column with millions of readers around the world, for which he won the first-ever National Press Club award for humor. The Borowitz Report was acquired by The New Yorker in 2012. He has been called a "Swiftian satirist" (The Wall Street Journal), "one of the country's finest satirists" (The Times) and "one of the funniest people in America" (CBS News' "Sunday Morning").

"Kugel" Tiny Desk performance by The LeeVees

The LeeVees are Adam Gardner (also of Guster) and Dave Schneider (also of The Zambonis) that formed after Adam asked Dave if he wanted to write some songs about being Jewish. Dave said yes. Written on a bus, college locker rooms and hotels over 10 days during a Zambonis/Guster tour through the midwest, their popular Hanukkah Rocks album was released in 2005. You can watch them play four songs from the record on their brand new Tiny Desk Concert.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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