“Hearts Alight” by Elliot Cooper— A Gay Chanukah

Cooper, Elliot. “Hearts Alight”,  Independently Published, 2018. A Gay Chanukah Amos Lassen Chanukah is this country. Has become verycommercialized and Dave Cunningham hates that it has. He changes his mind a bitwhen he realizes that he has a chance to bring a bit of a holiday happiness tohis long-time crush, Amit Cohen. Dave is determined to make the perfect giftand tries to get a few personal details out of Amit who will not compromise hisstoic nature. Dave  unintentionallylearns the Cohen family’s secret: Amit is a golem and Amit has a problem that isdeeper than his magical origin, and a Hanukkah miracle might be the only thingthat will keep the flame burning between the ton guys. Maybe I missed somethingbut I do not understand how David could fall in love with Amit and not knowthat he is a golem and therefore not human). But this is a story and Elliot Cooper is a good storyteller. Dave’s friend Jake is Amit’s nephew and so he has a bit of inside help in learningabout the man he has such a crush on. We see Amit through Dave’s eyes and asthe beautiful man that he is. However, when a jerk makes fun of Amit and Amittakes off, Dave goes after him and we learn a secret.  Jake tells Dave Amit can “recharge” his batteries when touchedby someone who cares. Romantic love could be what keeps Amit Earth bound, evenafter he’s fulfilled his spiritual obligation.

Dave understands and accepts Amit but there are the factsof his being non–human that could make things difficult.  Amit’s being a golem is a unique twist but it didn’t work for me. I suppose Iam too grounded in Judaism and the traditions and culture of the religion. We have had a hard time being accepted into theJewish religion as gay people so, for me, adding a gay Jewish golem to the mixwas a bit too much. However, if I simply would read this as a story, I would totallyenjoy it.Dave was frustrated becauseof the guilt he felt by not being able to get with with the gift-giving goingon around him. Finding a gift for a golem is a unique and challengingexperience. Dave’s friendship with Jake, and the hesitant beginnings of hisromance with Amit are very well written. And I really got into Dave’s feelingsabout the modernization of Hanukkah. Writer Cooper gives us quite a rainbow ofcharacters with Amit, a gay golem, Dave, a bisexual man and Jake, a trans maleand Dave’s best friend.

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