Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In Memoriam: My Yiddishkeit teacher: Dear Old Dad: "Bernie Bloom" (urology surgeon par excellence) via the Zimbalists in Kiev & Joseph Bloom and Tillie Fleishmann in Brooklyn, Avenue J (1915 - 2005)

Square One Publishers has published the new 2006 edition of ''BUBBIE AND ZADIE COME TO MY HOUSE'', 32 pages, in color, written by Daniel Halevi Bloom and illustrated by Alex Meilichson. The book is on now. [NEWS HEADLINE BELOW]

Yes, Virginia, there is a Bubbie and Zadie!

Internet News Agency

December 13, 2006

Norfolk, Virginia

Twenty years ago, when Susan Anderson was given a cassette tape of a children's Hanukkah story titled "Bubbie and Zadie Come to My House", her first child Ryan was about a year old and the family, including Anderson's husband, Jim, began listening to the tape every Hanukkah at their home in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

In the story written by children's author Daniel Halevi Bloom, Bubbie and Zadie -- Yiddish words for "grandma and grandpa" -- embody the spirit of all grandparents. Every December, on the first night of Hannukah, they leave their little tailor shop and fly magically through the sky to visit Jewish children. At each house, Bubbie and Zadie sit and chat and share a snack, advise children to have good hearts and tell them stories about the Jewish faith.

Anderson recently told reporter Krys Stefanksy of the Virginian-Pilot newspaper that when she was only six weeks old, she was adopted by parents of mixed religion. Her adoptive father was Jewish, her mother Methodist. Anderson was brought up in the Jewish faith but never practiced Jewish traditions.

Then, before her own children were born, she had a blood test and discovered that she had a genetic DNA for Tay-Sachs disease carried by Jewish people. So then she knew she truly was Jewish-born. That discovery made her determined to embrace the traditions of the Jewish faith. Her husband, a Presbyterian, understood and agreed.

That's why, over the course of 18 years, the small cassette tape grew to be very important in the Anderson household. Every December, they would listen to it in the kitchen, in the car, snuggled together on the sofa. "I wanted to create my own little magic with Hanukkah," Anderson said. "It's all about lighting the candles. With kids, it's all about the presents. If they think these little people come, it just makes it all the more fun."

So, every night, after the family lit their Hanukkah candles, Bubbie and Zadie would leave presents under Ryan, Jordan and Jillian's beds. However, a few years ago, Anderson lost the tape. Her youngest child, Jillian, couldn't hear the recorded story anymore. Still, Jillian always waited for Bubbie and Zadie to visit.

Then in 2005, when her children had grown to be 21, 17 and 8 years old, Anderson saw an article in a newspaper and read that Bubbie and Zadie were the main characters in a children's book written by Bloom and originally published in 1985.

Anderson searched all over forthe book, and finally, like so many children who have written to Bubbie and Zadie over the years at the author's invitation, Anderson wrote directly to the elderly couple -- their address was in the newspaper article -- on New Year's Day 2006.

"We still hide the presents under the bed each night, so she does know about them," Anderson wrote, referring to her daughter, Jillian, and then her two boys. "It has been a wonderful, magical, fun experience over the years to hear their little footsteps run upstairs and come down with smiles and excitement that again Bubbie and Zadie were here."

Bloom, an American how living on the other side of the world in Asia, wrote right back, right on Anderson's letter.

"What a beautiful, moving letter!" Bloom scribbled in the margins. "Your letter touches me deeply. I am in quiet happy tears -- etars of joy, of course."

He knew, of course, that his book had become a fixture in many Jewish homes. And he knew why.

When Bloom was a child growing up in Massachusetts in the 1950s, he had always had the feeling that Hanukkah was overshadowed by Christmas -- the trees, the music, the TV specials, the Santas. He felt there should be more about the Festival of Lights.

"But of course, I was only 10, so I had no idea what to do," Bloom recently told a reporter. Then in 1981, in his 30s, he invented an imaginary pair of grandparents and sent out a release to The Associated Press inviting children to write Hanukkah letters to the couple, for free. And they would get a letter in return, for free.

The letter idea took off, The New York Times wrote about Bloom in 1983 in a feature story by Nadine Brozan, he wrote a book about Bubbie and Zadie in 1985 and then came the audio tape in 1987 -- the same tape that Anderson first listened to 18 years ago.

Bloom understood Anderson's passion for the story. After all, children and adults had written hundreds, thousands of letters to Bubbie and Zadie, over the years.

He suggested Anderson try to find a copy of the book at He told her she could download the story for free from a Web site. He even offered to send her a copy via e-mail.

That's because, despite the letters, and despite the popularity the story had attained in the Jewish community for 25 years, the book had gone out of print by 2000.

It was not the first time somebody had said his book should still be on the market. The fiftysomething Boston native is the author of seven other children's books and has worked in several countries as a cartoonist, a newspaper editor, a public relations consultant and freelance journalist.

Anderson's letter, he told the Virginian-Pilot, gave him a "kick in the 'tuches' [behind]", and that he tried hard to find a new publisher to bring Bubbie and Zadie back into print again.

Bloom had taken the story to 30 new publishers over the previous five years, and they all said no thank you.

One day, by email, Bloom got in touch by email with Rudy Shur, head of Square One Publishers in New York. "I told Dan, 'Wow, we don't publish children's books," Shur recalled. But he remembered reading about a fellow who had written a children's book and was still getting letters from children around the world.

"Yes, that's me," Bloom told him. Shur asked for the book. " He wanted to be the new publisher!
And singehandedly, Rudy Shur rescued Bubbie and Zadie from out of print oblivion!

Shur's wife had an idea. An art exhibit was opening in just a few days. "She said, 'Go there,' " Shur remembered, "and I said, 'Yes, honey, let's go. Just schlepp me along.'

"I went there and passed a small booth with some artwork, and it was done in the style of (Marc) Chagall and had a Jewish name on it. And I said this is really beautiful." The artist, Alex Meilichson, was visiting from his home in Israel, where he had once studied sociology and political science at Tel Aviv University. He didn't do illustrations, he told Shur. He did paintings.

"So I said, let me tell you about me," Shur said. "I have a project. The author is in Taiwan, and I think that if we put your style of art in the book, it would be really good. We need 28 paintings, and we need them in eight weeks and we need them done relatively cheap."

Three and a half weeks later, the paintings were done. This past September, Bloom's
book, in a brand-new edition with new illustrations, was back on the market, ready for grandparents to give to their grandchildren on the first night of Hanukkah.

And Bloom, well, Danny Bloom says he is ecstatic. "Bubbie and Zadie have been rescued and given a second life. That's all I was looking for." He says he's now in 7th heaven, maybe 8th heaven, actually!

And imagine Anderson's surprise when she received her copy last month, read it all the way through, then found her name on the last page under the author's acknowledgements: "Susan Anderson in Virginia."

It was as if Bubbie and Zadie themselves had flown through the air and left her an early Hanukkah gift.

++++++++++++++++++++++++ END OF 2006 NEWS STORY ++++++++++



To read more about the book, and the letters it has generated over the past 25 years, go here:

As you know, Bubbie and Zadie handwritten letters from kids ....and adults! ....Email also in this Internet Age! Who knew?

You can read a short excerpt from the book, online and free, here:

* SNAIL MAIL ....FOR HANDWRITTEN LETTERS TO BUBBIE AND ZADIE: please write before December 15:

Bubbie and Zadie's Mail Box
115 Herricks Road

Garden Park City, New York 11040

Nationwide 2006 Reuters NEWS STORY about BUBBIE AND ZADIE:

ANNOUNCEMENT.... to all children and all adults:

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS about Bubbie and Zadie in your life:

This website will give you a chance to write a letter to Bubbie and Zadie, by snail mail or email, about anything you want to write to them about. You can write a heartfelt letter, reliving memories of your own bubbie and zadie, remembering family moments, both happy or sad, and pondering the meaning and contributions that bubbies and zadies have made to Jewish culture in your own lifetime. If you give us your permission, later, we will then add your letter to the Bubbie and Zadie Memory Bank that is hosting for us on our booksite blog above.