Barbara Bietz

Like a Maccabee


This title is no longer available through Yotzeret Publishing. Please visit Barbara Bietz’s website at to see if she has any copies left for sale. 

Days before Hanukkah, ten-year-old Ben’s soccer team makes the league championships. Only one thing stands between Ben and victory: the rival team’s best defender, a school bully whose favorite sport, other than soccer, is tormenting Ben. No one at home seems to understand. And now he has to share his bedroom—and his family’s attention—with his grandfather, who has recently come to live with them. Facing humiliation at school and misunderstood by those who love him most, Ben finds an unexpected friend in his grandfather, learning ancient wisdom and steadfast strength, enough for the big game . . . and beyond.


by Barbara Bietz

illustrated by Anita White

“I didn’t remember everything about the Hanukkah story,
but I was pretty sure Judah Maccabee didn’t play soccer.”



✡ 2012 PJ Library pick
✡ 2006 Midwest Book Award Merit Winner

Barbara Bietz has chaired and served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and maintains a blog dedicated to Jewish books for children at A freelance writer, book reviewer, and member of SCBWI, she also conducts writer’s workshops for children and adults. She lives in Oak Park, California. You can learn more about her at

Additional information

Weight .5 lbs
Dimensions 5.5 × 8.5 × 0.25 in




Also Available As



2006 Midwest Book Award Merit Winner, PJ Library pick


Barbara Bietz


  1. Sheila N. Glaznov

    “Barbara Bietz has crafted a story that will resonate with all ages and make their hearts smile! Her multi-generational characters are refreshing and recognizable. Their voices make you laugh, pique your curiosity and feel compassion for others. Ben and Grandpa hit home runs when they develop the strength and courage to meet the challenges of change, a bully, and disappointment in their lives. This book is a ‘love’ gift for Hanukkah and for sharing a ‘championship’ life with those you love.”

    Sheila N. Glazov
    author of Princess Shayna’s Invisible Visible Gift

  2. Linda R. Silver

    “The melding of plot and theme, Jewish history and contemporary life, Jewish values and character development is done very skillfully, with a light touch and a sure feel for childhood emotions and relationships. Ben’s family’s celebration of Hanukkah is portrayed with joy. Consider this a first purchase.”

    Linda R. Silver
    Newsletter of the Association of Jewish Libraries

  3. Jewish Book World

    “Using the backdrop of the Hanukkah holiday, the author realistically captures the challenges of peer pressure and positive ways to overcome adversity against a bully. An important addition to the meager amount of Jewish-themed early chapter books, this heartwarming novel marks a promising debut for this first-time author. Kids will enjoy this book at Hanukkah time or throughout the year.”

    **Starred** Review, Jewish Book World

  4. Midwest Book Review

    “Highly recommended.”

    Midwest Book Review

  5. Hadassah

    “…a winner.”

    Hadassah Magazine

  6. Mindy Aber Barad

    Like a Maccabee is a refreshingly proud Jewish story. Barbara Bietz has given the miracles of Hanukkah new meaning for today’s ‘goal’-oriented children. She has bridged the generation gap in a warm true-sounding story of a boy, his grandfather and the special way they share a holiday. Highly recommended.”

    Mindy Aber Barad
    author of Jewish Humor Stories for Kids
    Judaica Librarians’ Choice Award Nominee

  7. Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

    “Recommended! Like A Maccabee brings the spirit of Hanukkah into a contemporary story that every elementary student will relate to. Barbara Bietz creates memorable, likable characters that will be easy for parents and teachers–as well as their children–to recognize.”

    Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
    author of The Magic Tanach and Other Short Plays

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