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St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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West County woman on quest to find vintage Hanukkah kitsch

Brooke Pratt

Brooke Pratt is a devoted mid-century modern enthusiast who frequently explores local antique stores for unique 1950s and 60s treasures.

“About seven years ago I was in a Creve Coeur antique mall, not necessarily looking for anything specific, when I became overwhelmed by all the mid-century Christmas decorations,” said Pratt, 44 who is a member of Congregation Shaare Emeth. “Where were all the Hanukkah items?”

It was this lack of Hanukkah representation that left Pratt frustrated.

“It felt like we were not a part of history, in a way. It was sad. And sadder when I started thinking about why so many Christmas decorations from the ’50s and ’60s are available, and why Hanukkah isn’t,” said Pratt. “All my mid-mod loving friends have homes overflowing with kitschy Christmas decor, so why doesn’t my mid-mod house look like that, only with Hanukkah kitsch?” said Pratt.

Finding Hanukkah kitsch became Pratt’s new mission. Her new purpose.

The quest begins every Nov. 1

Since her day of discovery in 2017, Pratt has been on the hunt for mid-century items representing and celebrating Hanukkah.

It’s so hard to find, other than brass Hanukkiah which are slightly more common,” said Pratt.

Her hunt begins annually on Nov. 1., because it’s the day after Halloween.

“That’s the day everyone flips their booth from fall to winter, so Halloween comes down and Christmas goes up,” said Pratt. And that includes Hanukkah, too.

The collection grows

Each year Pratt’s collection continues to grow. Her home is now filled with dozens and dozens of electric menorahs, boxes of candles, several sets of blow mold lights, party supplies, vintage oil containers, blue and yellow fire king bowls and Tupperware and tchotchkes.

One of her favorite finds is a tin of “Best Fry Shortening.”

“I was so excited to find it locally, ” said Pratt.  “It says, ‘especially fine for all deep fat fried foods’ and it checked all my boxes because oil plays such a central role in Hanukkah and it’s blue and white.”

Another of her favorite items is an electric Hanukkiah that came in its original box.

“I got it from eBay. The box has great images and fonts. I might like it even more than the Hanukkiah inside,” said Pratt.

She finds many items on eBay and Etsy and has theories on why mid-century modern Hanukkah kitsch is so hard to find.

“It turns out we’re very good, as a people, at throwing away our trash, like an empty candle box or menorah packaging. I’m not a hoarder or anything, but I keep things other people might not,” said Pratt.

“I will also say that I don’t even get the impression that the online sellers I’ve bought from are Jewish. They seem to be people who have found things at estate sales and added them to their shop. There doesn’t seem to be many people interested in what I’m looking for, but that hasn’t helped availability.”

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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.