About the Book:
Oy! to the world
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.
But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.
Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.
A Jewish heroine who has a secret love for all things related to Christmas? When I read the synopsis, I knew I had to one-click. And this perfectly adorable holiday romance happily lives up to all the hype.
Rachel is the best-selling author of Christmas romances under a secret pen name. Her father is a well-known rabbi and her mother is a top fertility specialist, and Rachel grew up in an observant Jewish home. It would be a scandal if her secret became public! But then her publisher asks her to write a Hanukkah romance, so Rachel hatches a scheme to gain entrance to the Matzah Ball, the exclusive holiday party where Jewish singles go to hopefully meet their match. The event is organized by her first love Jacob, who is now a successful entrepreneur.
Rachel and Jacob haven’t spoken in years after a one eventful summer at sleep away camp. Complicating matters is the fact that Rachel also suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The simplest of tasks can cause her to require bed rest for days. Jacob is unaware of this, but he hasn’t stopped thinking about Rachel for years. This sounds like the plot of a thousand other romance novels but ‘The Matzah Ball’ is really unique in its inclusion of two Jewish main characters. The author doesn’t just skim over Jewish traditions, she really does a deep dive into the meaning of many Jewish customs and religious obligations.
“You know, there’s a belief in the Jewish culture that every person in the world has a person they are destined to marry. Your bashert. A soul God cut and created, designated just for you. Isn’t that the loveliest concept?”
It was wonderful to see Jewish representation in a romantic comedy. I could not put this book down! The scene where Rachel schleps to visit a department store Santa was priceless. How would she ever be able to reveal to her parents and to Jacob what she really did for a living? And would she and Jacob be able to finally communicate their true feelings? Of course I knew there would be a HEA but I absolutely loved how the author got there!
It was also very refreshing to read about a main character with a chronic disease. The author is well acquainted with this subject as she suffers from chronic illnesses in real life. Rachel never engaged in self-pity but instead was simply acutely aware of her body’s limitations, and what the results would be of over-exertion. All she wanted was normalcy in her life, which seemed out of reach for her.
“Christmas filled a void and turned her painful daily struggles into a tolerable reality. No one was ever sick in her Christmas romances. No one was ever heartbroken by the antics of a childhood sociopath. Indeed, no one was even Jewish. She didn’t have to be Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt in her novels. Christmas provided the ultimate escape.”
This is a funny, clean romance that was a joy to read. I am not a huge fan of holiday romance but ‘The Matzah Ball’ ticked all the boxes for me. I loved the dual points of view and the hilarious and often sarcastic dialogue between Jacob and Rachel. The author is an exciting writer and I am thrilled that she has another book planned in 2022!
“So many people think Hanukkah is about miracles. But Hanukkah is really about fighting for the things you believe in.”