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Menorah Under the Sea
By Esther Susan Heller
Kar-Ben PublishingCopyright © 2009 Esther Susan Heller
All rights reserved.
David Ginsburg boarded an airplane in Los Angeles and flew for 14 hours. He flew past all the lands where it was winter and all the countries where it was summer. When the plane finally landed in Christchurch, New Zealand, he switched to a U.S. Air Force cargo plane that took him to McMurdo Station in Antarctica down at the bottom of the world.
Antarctica is a dangerous place, where only trained researchers live for a few months at a time. Cruise ships with adventurous tourists occasionally drop anchor a tone of the islands.
David is a marine biologist. He would live at McMurdo for five months to study the underwater animals that live in the frigid ocean.
It was the first night of Hanukkah when David got ready to dive. "Could Hanukkah come to Antarctica?" he wondered. It was summer, but so cold that the ice on the ground hadn't melted. During summer there is no night. How can you light a menorah when the sun is still shining?
He pulled on his dry suit, a red rubber outfit that stretched from his toes to his neck. It felt like he was stepping into a garbage bag, but it kept him warmand dry in the freezing water. His diving buddy, Rob, zipped the suit closed, and David did the same for Rob.
They put on their dry gloves, hoods, and facemasks. They strapped air tanks on their backs and adjusted their breathing devices. With battery-operated flashlights and underwater cameras, they were ready to go.
Excerpted from Menorah Under the Sea by Esther Susan Heller. Copyright © 2009 Esther Susan Heller. Excerpted by permission of Kar-Ben Publishing.
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Our family loved this book, and we shared it with a 3rd grade class and a 2d grade class. The photos are very cool, and it is a totally different kind of Hanukkah book. Also nice to see a contemporary story. The conclusion on the final page of the story didn't flow as well as the rest, but overall a great concept.
Would you think that there is any life in the frigid waters off Antarctica? Well, there is! Follow diver David W. Ginsburg, who is a marine ecologist from Los Angeles, CA, as he goes to the McMurdo Station on the Antarctic continent to study the underwater animals that live in the ocean. After getting on his dry suite and tramping through the ice, he and his partner Rob swim down to find sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and starfish. David is trying to learn how the sea urchins survive in the freezing water. However, he is in Antarctica during the time when his family back home would be putting candles on the Hanukkah menorahs. What might David do with the colorful sea urchins, starfish, and his camera to help him celebrate Hanukkah? After showing everyone the picture that he takes, some of the other Jewish scientists join David as he takes his metal traveling menorah and they celebrate Hanukkah, remembering how long ago the Jewish people stood up to their enemies and survived. David hasn't yet learned how the sea urchins manage to stay alive, but he knows how the Jewish people survived. Author Esther Susan Heller does an excellent job telling this true story, which is lavishly illustrated by copious photographs of what David does and what he sees on the ocean floor. In addition, there is information at the back about sea urchins, McMurdo Station, and David himself. Children who want to learn more about life under the sea will especially enjoy this book, but it is fascinating reading for anyone.