Chanukah, Hanukah, Hanukkah or Chanuka
There are as many ways to spell Chanukah as activities and ideas for the classroom. It is a wonderful holiday for all—parents, children and teachers. I would like to share with you some ideas and thoughts for your classrooms and families.
While we all enjoy the holiday, it is important to always take the time to see Chanukah from a child’s eye view:
- Chanukah lasts for eight days.
- I light another candle on the chanukiah (menorah) each night for eight nights.
- I use the shamash (helper candle) to light the other candles.
- I celebrate Chanukah with my family and friends.
- I can try to spin the dreidel and play the dreidel game.
- I eat latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts).
- I hear the story of the brave Maccabees.
- It was a miracle that the oil lasted eight days instead of just one.
Please feel free to copy and paste the section below to send home with your children.
WAYS TO CELEBRATE AS A FAMILY
- Observe the mitzvah of publicizing the miracle (pirsum ha-nes) by placing the chanukiah (Chanukah menorah) in a window so that all are reminded of the miraculous victory of the Maccabees. As a family, light the chanukiah each night of the holiday and place it in a window at the front of your home.
- Allow your child(ren) to take an active part in lighting the candles by having them pick the candles and placing them in the chanukiah. Perhaps they can make a pattern with the colors. As you light the candles, have a young child place his or her hand on your arm and go through the motions with you.
- Celebrate the holiday by placing decorations around the house. There are many commercially available decorations, but it is very special to include those made by children and to save these to be reused each year.
- Make and send holiday cards to friends and families in other cities.
- It is a custom on Jewish holidays to give tzedakah. As a family, choose a favorite organization and donate money. Some families choose one night where, instead of gifts to each other, money or something tangible is given to those in need.
- It is a Jewish custom to eat foods that are fried in oil to commemorate the miracle of the oil lasting eight days. Two foods that are often served are potato latkes (common in the United States and Europe) and sufganiyot (donuts) which are common in Israel.
- During the time of Antiochus, the Jews were prohibited from practicing their religion. However, Jews continued to study secretly and used the game of dreidel to mask their studies. If a Greek soldier would enter the room where they were studying, they would pretend to be engaged in a game of dreidel. Allow your child to practice spinning a dreidel. Directions for the game are attached.
- Designate the time when the candles are burning each night as “family time”. Use this time to play games or read a story.
Some suggested Chanukah stories are:
- The Chanukah Guest, Eric A Kimmel. Holiday House 1988
- Hanukkah A Counting Book, Emily Sper Scholastic 2001
- It’s Hanukkah Time, Latifa B. Kropf. Kar- Ben 2004
- Mrs. Katz and Tush, Patricia Polacco. Bantam Doubleday 1992
- The Runaway Latkes, Leslie Kimmelman. Albert Whitman and Company 2000
- Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah, Sylvia Rouss Kar-Ben 1993
- Where Is Baby’s Dreidel, Karen Katz. Simon and Schuster 2007
We wish you a holiday filled with fun and happiness.
Director of Early Childhood Engagement
Congregation Shaare Emeth