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‘Eight Candles and a Tree’ blends religions — and holidays

david wilson for the boston globe

Brookline-based Simone Bloom Nathan was raised Jewish and so were her children. But when it came time for them to marry and form their own families, they chose spouses from different faiths.

Like a lot of kids growing up in interfaith families, Nathan's grandchildren spend the holiday season celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas.

But when she went looking for a picture book that reflected their lives, she came up short. So she took matters into her own hands — or typewriter. The result is "Eight Candles and a Tree."

"I wrote the book because I couldn't find a book about a little girl who celebrates both, as is the case with my grandchildren," said Nathan. "I was kind of shocked."


Both statistics and her own experiences told her that her family was hardly alone. "About 60 percent of Jews marry outside of the faith, and more than 30 percent of all marriages are interfaith," Nathan pointed out. "I would say most of my friends who are Jewish have a child who has married out of the faith."

Although some clergy caution against raising kids with multiple religious traditions, Nathan said it seems to be working for her grandchildren: "They think it's wonderful!"

"Eight Candles and a Tree" is her first children's book. "It turned out to be a lot more of a daunting project than I thought!" Nathan said. But the response has been gratifying. "So many people have come up to me and said, 'I'm really pleased you wrote this book. It applies to me; it applies to my grandkids,' " she said.

The best review came from the book's heroine, Nathan's eldest grandchild. "She read it to me, and at the very end she turned to me, and said, 'Did you write this book for me?' " Nathan said. "I got tears in my eyes. It made everything worth it."


Nathan will read today at 3:30 p.m. at Newtonville Books, 10 Langley Rd., Newton Centre.

Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.