Harvest of Light

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

The olive harvest in Israel is a special time. See how the tiny spring flowers blossom into green fruit, then ripen into shiny black olives. Watch the olives as they’re gathered, sorted, and pressed into oil. Then celebrate Hanukkah with an Israeli family, as they use the oil to light their Hanukkah menorah. Come and enjoy the harvest of light.

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Interest Level Preschool - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Social Studies
Copyright 2008
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2014-01-01
Text Type Informational/Explanatory
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9 x 9
Guided Reading Level M
ATOS Reading Level 3.8
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 126775
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards and Reviewed

Author: Allison Ofanansky

Allison Ofanansky, born in the U.S., moved to Israel and became an Israeli citizen in 1996. She lives in the village of Kaditah near the mystical city of Safed, with her husband Shmuel and daughter Aravah. They enjoy hiking the hills of the Galilee, gathering and eating the fruits that grow there. They are involved in environmental and eco-peace projects.

Photographer: Eliyahu Alpern

Born and raised outside Chicago and now living in Israel, photographer Eliyahu Alpern has been interested in food, travel, and photography since childhood. He's been a musician, cougar rehabilitator, vegetarian chef, organic farmer and multi-media maven. His photographic specialty is 360-degree panoramic images of Israel. He lives in the Upper Galilee with his family.


  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable, Commended, 2008



A young girl living near Safed, Israel, describes how her family grows and harvests olives to make the oil they use each year in their Hanukkah menorah. In the spring the trees bloom and tiny green olives form; in early fall the family picks and preserves a few green olives for eating; and in late fall they pick, sort, and press ripe black olives for oil. The story is simply told from the young girl’s point of view, makes use of Hebrew terms (Ima and Abba for mother and father), and references Jewish holidays (Sukkot and Hanukkah) to describe the maturational stages of the olives. Alpern’s clear color photographs follow each step of the cycle, emphasizing how the family works to-gether in these efforts and how they appreciate the beauty of these trees in addition to their bounty. This is a natural choice for religious collections, but it will also be useful for classes studying life in contemporary Israel.

School Library Journal

In this wonderfully different Hanukkah book, an Israeli family harvests olives to be processed into the oil. The daughter provides a simple narrative, which is clearly written and accompanied by full-color photographs de-picting each step in the process from gathering and sorting the olives to pressing them and using the oil to light the menorah. Resonating with familial warmth and a shared purpose, this is a fine offering.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

For the young Israeli girl narrating this photoessay, this year’s Hanukkah observance will be particularly meaning-ful, since she will help harvest the olives that will be pressed into the ritual lamp oil. She introduces the olive trees in spring: “When the days start to get hot, the flowers fall off and the first tiny green olives appear.” Just before the autumn feast of Sukkot, the green olives are ready to be pickled for eating, and the little girl helps her mother soak, drain, spice, and pack them away for several months of storage. Before Hanukkah, the crop of deep purple ripe olives is ready, and as the adults shake down the fruit onto tarps, the narrator Sorts them, cleans them, and even works a few math problems with them. Then away the crop goes to the press, and it comes back in large plastic jugs, ready to fill the nine tiny glass cups on the menorah: “Then we sing Hanukkah songs and watch the flickering light of the burning oil-oil from the olives I helped gather.” Readers who manage their busy young lives by the calendar will note that time is reckoned here by seasons and the cycle of holy days, and Jewish children accus-tomed to candles in the menorah may appreciate how the use of oil, used long ago to fill the Temple lamps for the miracle in Jerusalem, could enhance the meaning of the family’s Hanukkah observance. Color photographs are nicely reproduced, and they effectively capture the low-tech processes of olive oil production. Even the occasional stumble between picture and text (the olives shown 011 the tarp in ripe olive season look decidedly green, and the olives which the narrator uses to decorate around the menorah do not appear) will not detract from this thoroughly engaging title.

The Horn Book Magazine

“The warm-hearted narrative is enhanced by its many photographs. Those that focus on the olive grove and oil-harvesting machinery help clarify the process. Other quieter and more intimate images depict a contemporary Israeli family enjoying their time together, busily at work and peacefully at home.”
The Horn Book Magazine