If you think keeping track of gifts for all your grandchildren at Chanukah time is tough, be grateful you’re not Daniel Halevi Bloom. He has 10,000 “grandkids” to write to.
It all started in 1981 when Bloom wrote a story about a Jewish grandfather and grandmother who were able to magically fly to children’s homes on the first night of Chanukah to play the dreidel game and sing Chanukah songs. The story, which was published in 1985 as “Bubbie and Zadie Come to My House,” invites readers — children and adults — to write to Bubbie and Zadie. Bloom, 57, a freelance writer in Taiwan, said he has answered every letter even though it takes him two hours a day. He said he is a night owl and prefers answering the letters between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. He signs his letters, “Bubbie and Zadie.”
After being out of print for 15 years, the book was reissued with some slight text changes this year by Square One Publishers of Garden City Park, L.I. It is illustrated with 28 color paintings by Israeli painter Alex Meilichson, and it again invites readers’ letters either in care of the publisher or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The letters are beginning to come in, and [I’m] expecting hundreds more in the first two weeks of December,” Bloom wrote in an e-mail.
Among the letters he received last year was one from Steve, a convert to Judaism who wrote that one of his fondest memories as a child was writing to Santa Claus and that writing to Bubbie and Zadie was “the Jewish way” of doing it.
“When Bubbie and Zadie write to children, Chanukah will be real,” Steve wrote. “And that is the reason for the season.”
Rudy Shur, founder and publisher of Square One Publishers, said this is a book for grandparents to read to their grandchildren. “There is something in people that connects them with the point of the book,” he said. “It’s a sweet and simple story about grandparents who may no longer be around.”