Author Archives: Joanna Brichetto

Happy Hanukkah (with Nanoblock Menorahs)

Nanoblock menorahs and LEGO minifigure

Nanoblock menorahs (w LEGO minifig for scale)

Happy first night of Hanukkah!  I hope that by now, you have found a just-right menorah to light your holiday. Continue reading

Star Wars PEZ Menorah with Candy Flame

PEZ candles, PEZ flames

PEZ candles, PEZ flames

PEZ Hanukkah menorahs have been a thing for awhile, which means I wasn’t interested in making one, but when my Mom came for a visit bearing a Star Wars Limited Edition PEZ Collector’s Set With 9 Star Wars PEZ Dispensers, what else could I do? Continue reading

Menorahs and other lessons through (literally) Jewish lenses

Stars are crisper in person, I promise. I held the glasses over my camera lens.

Stars are far crisper in person. I held the glasses over my camera lens.

I don’t often tout a store-bought product, but I recently discovered that Jewish Star spectacles are back in production. The holographic lenses convert every focused light source into a Jewish star. Peep at a candle, a ceiling fixture, a lamp, and it becomes a Mogen David. Small light = small star, big light = big star. Imagine looking at a Hanukkah menorah on the 8th night.

Continue reading

Paper Chain Menorah, made by kids

Paper Chain Menorah

Paper Chain Menorah at school entrance

I needed an oversize Hanukkah decoration for our school’s program on Sunday, big enough to be seen across a drab Social Hall. Yesterday, a random Pinterest pic reminded me of an oldie but goodie: a big, paper-chain hanukkiyah. If mounted low enough, it can do double duty as teaching tool: kids can “light” it and practice proper order and blessings. Continue reading

Socket Menorah, instant DIY for the Jewish Garage

instant garage hanukkiyah

garage hanukkiyah in natural habitat

Sockets are instant candleholders.  And a socket holder is an instant Hanukkah menorah base. Thus, the Socket Menorah: instant ritual object for the handyperson or car nut. Continue reading

Schlemiel on a Wheel, Schmuck on a Truck, Schnorrer on a Menorah, etc.

Schlemiel on a Wheel (clumsy pushcart seller)

Schlemiel on a Wheel (clumsy pushcart seller)

Mensch on a Bench and Maccabee on the Mantle are riffs on Elf on a Shelf.  So, here’s my riff on the riffs: a trio of tiny Jews—Yiddish stock characters—on Things. All are cautionary tales. However, unlike the toy/book combos just mentioned, they are not surveillance tools for moral accountability. These guys don’t really care about you or your kids at all.  Continue reading

Oil Menorahs, DIY or Buy

Oil menorah, cheap and visible

Oil menorah, cheap but visible

When I first started doing Jewish holidays I remember being baffled by the Hanukkah candles. Wasn’t the Hanukkah story all about oil? Most every kid’s book highlights the miraculous oil, we fry our latkes and sufganiyot in oil, but every year we (and all the Jews I knew) pull out boxes of multicolored candles to light in honor of the oil.  Shouldn’t we light oil to honor oil? Continue reading

Mini mint menorah (2.25″ wide): The Smalls

Small and Smalls

Smalls are less than half the size of Altoids tins

Last year I made a “curiously tiny” menorah from an Altoids tin. I also made the claim that as menorahs go, you can’t get much smaller.  I was wrong. Continue reading

Elephant Warrior Oil Menorah (with bonus martyr)

Elephant Menorah with Martyr and Matches

Elephant Menorah with Martyr and Matches

Today’s menorah features Eleazar Maccabee (Judah’s little brother) and the elephant that was his downfall (because it fell down on him).

What else would I make with a ziploc bag of spent rifle casings?
With me, anything longer than it is wide is not automatically “Freudian,” it is a menorah component. Continue reading

Jewish Tangrams: Hanukkah Dreidels (printable)

Tangram dreidels (click to print)

Tangram dreidels (click to print)

Two dreidel patterns for Hanukkah.  Fold the sheet to hide the solution if you wish. Continue reading

Sukkah Scrap Art (repurposed packaging)

Hadas Hanging

Hadas Hanging

Before Sukkot, our shul’s myrtle twigs shipped from Israel in gaudy Hebrewlicious plastic sleeves. The three branches per pack were destined to join the lulav for a week of shaking in the sukkah.  But what of the destiny of the now empty purple packets?  I could not imagine throwing them away.  The siddur font, the Mardi Gras magenta, Continue reading

Jewish Tangrams: Shabbat candles

Tangram Shabbat candles

Tangram Shabbat candles

Here’s another printable for Jewish tangrams: Shabbat candles. Fold the sheet to hide the solution or keep it flat for beginners. Click image to print pdf. Continue reading

K’NEX spinning Dreidel, DIY kits (home or school)

easy to make, easy to spin

easy to make, easy to spin

I’m hooked.  I’m not even a K’NEX fan, but it turns out that a K’NEX dreidel is absolutely irresistible to build and to play with.  These dreidels spin like mad, are easy to assemble and don’t fling themselves to bits, even when doing battle in a dreidel arena.  Imagine students building these at a Hanukkah Carnival . . . Continue reading

Gingerbread Golem coloring page

Color me alive, color me dead.

Gingerbread Golem coloring page.

First, the cookie, now the Coloring Page.
To demonstrate what happens when the letter aleph is removed: EMET (truth) becomes MET (death).  Continue reading

Gingerbread Golem

Gingerbread Golem

Gingerbread Golem

To bring to life the dead space between fall Jewish holidays and winter Jewish holidays: The Gingerbread Golem. Continue reading

More Lulav Re-cycling Projects (after Sukkot)

four Lulav leaf weaving experiments

four Lulav leaf weaving experiments

I’m still playing with leftover lulav leaflets.  Consider this an in-progress Show and Tell.  Six different projects so far.  Scroll down to see some serious lulav love.  Continue reading

Lulav Chain garland for Sukkot (a re-purpose)

Lulav Chain garland

Lulav Chain garland

Here’s a nifty way to re-purpose your now superfluous lulav after Sukkot: a Lulav Chain for next year’s sukkah.  All-natural, thematic, respectful (to a ritual object) and genuinely pretty.  No staples, no glue.  I find it strangely soothing to assemble the links as fast as possible, but taken at a leisurely pace, even older kids can join in and help “re-cycle.” Continue reading

LEGO Minifig Lulav and Etrog

caption

LEGO minifig lulav and etrog

Our LEGO minifigs now have an appropriately-scaled lulav and etrog for their LEGO sukkah. For a few years, they’ve heard rumours that our Playmobil folk had a set, but now, both populations can shake and wave and sniff and try not to poke out each other’s eyeballs. Continue reading

Manischewitz Tiki Torch: An Essay

the Tacky Torch

Tacky Tiki Torch

The Manischewitz Tiki Torch.  Unendorsed, unaffiliated, unnoticed by the Manischewitz company, but most emphatically created in homage to it.  I timed the debut for erev Sukkot, and I admit, I am tickled purple with myself. Continue reading

Kid-built mini sukkahs (LEGO, Lincoln Logs, MagNext and K’Nex)

Lincoln Log sukkah. With steps for Bubbe.

Lincoln Log sukkah. With steps for Bubbe.

Psssst: a kid-crafted mini sukkah made with construction toys is way, way easier on you, the adult, than say, with edibles or up-cycled boxes.  LEGO and Lincoln Logs and suchlike do not require you to run for the scissors and glue, to monitor frosting consumption, Continue reading