Beth Rodgers and Howard Fridson’s new children’s book Welcome to Chanu-Con details Congregation Beth Shalom’s pre-Chanukah event.

Featured photo courtesy of Barbara Lewis

Chanu-Con, Congregation Beth Shalom’s annual pre-Chanukah happening, has been so successful that two synagogue members have made a children’s book about it.

Welcome to Chanu-Con (Clear Stone Press) was a labor of love for writer Beth Rodgers of Oak Park and illustrator Howard Fridson of Huntington Woods.

They wanted to create a children’s book about Chanukah, but it seemed like everything about the holiday had already been done. “I must have at least 20 Chanukah books for kids,” said Rodgers, a freelance editor and mother of three sons, 6, 3 and 7 months. She didn’t want to write about the Maccabees, or the miracle of the oi, or latkes. “I thought Chanu-Con would be something different.”

Rodgers, a Beth Shalom vice president and chair of its program committee, proposed the event four years ago. The name came from her son Evan’s mispronunciation of the name of the holiday. It sounded like Comic-Con, a well-known national expo, and so Chanu-Con was born. The free event, which attracts more than 500 participants, includes vendor tables, a raffle, live musical entertainment, activities for children, including a bounce house, and several kosher food purveyors.

This year’s Chanu-Con will be Sunday, Nov. 24, from 1-5 p.m. at Beth Shalom, 14601 Lincoln, Oak Park.

Welcome to Chanu-Con, written in rhyme, follows siblings Max and Lila as they attend the festival with their parents. “Today is the day,” (Max) exclaimed, loud and clear. “What time do we leave? I’ve been waiting all year.”

At Chanu-Con, the children make tissue paper menorahs and candle hats — and directions are included at the back of the book so young readers can do the same.

Rodgers, a freelance editor, has published two young adult novels, Freshman Fourteen and Sweet Fifteen. Fridson has illustrated a number of children’s books, including The Journey of a Dollar by Doris Rubenstein and The Animals’ Great Football Game by Jeffrey London, as well one he wrote, Our Family Treasure.

The two started collaborating on Welcome to Chanu-Con in early 2018. The creative process survived three house moves (two by Fridson and one by graphic designer Adrienne Berlin, of Milwaukee, Wis.) and the birth of Rodgers’s youngest son, Noah.

The book is available on Amazon.


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