The intersection of Jewish holidays and LEGO again, but this time, with fire.
Last year, we made Duplo and LEGO menorahs for our Duplo Temple. Not Hanukkah menorahs, but the seven-branched menorah as per Exodus: the official holy lighting for the Temple. Ours was an invention born of necessity, as we could not find a teeny, seven-branched menorah to use in our LEGO minifig Story of Hanukkah. (The bad guys had to knock down the menorah and the good guys had to pick it back up and light it.)
This year, we’re doing a Hanukkiyah: Hanukkah menorah. Nine-branches. And this year, we’re going to actually light it.
We built upside-down in order to take advantage of the handy tubes on the underside of Duplo and LEGO. Duplo tubes are the perfect size to hold the fancy Hanukkah candles, and almost the perfect size to hold the ordinary kind. The latter will need a smidge of foil or non-flammable clay in the bottom to hold the candle upright, or a drop of wax. Typical Hanukkah candles drip like mad, so expect a good ol’ mess if you do this at home, and put a length of foil or a cookie sheet underneath the whole thing.
I predict weeping and teeth-gnashing if wax runoff engulfs our LEGOs, so truth be told, I shall have to blow the candles out before the wax gets to the gnashing-point. I don’t have that mysterious anti-wax spray advertised on Judaica sites, and I’m not willing to make nine tiny bobeches to catch the drips. The Duplo lamp will not be our primary Hanukkah menorah, so we will still be able to “publicize” the flames via the many other hanukkiyot in the room. Publicizing a Jewish holiday from our windows on a busy street in Nashville is a bit like publicizing my website on the Internet. A drop in an impossibly vast bucket. A cry in the wilderness. But, “so it is written, so shall it be done,” as Yul Brenner would say in a very different context.
The upside-down LEGO hanukkiyah has tubes, too, of course, but these are far too small for Hanukkah candles. Birthday candles will fit, but we’re just using Lite Brite pegs to simulate actual fire. Remember, red Battleship pegs will work, as will LEGO 1x cylinder bricks, cylinder plates (pips) and 1×1 bricks, but the tapered, translucent flamey-ness of Lite Brite beats them all.
Although I’d love to use olive oil with this, I wouldn’t dream of it unless I had those tiny glass jars that fit snugly in the tubes.
Building a hanukkiyah is a great way to learn about the rules and customs:
- How many flames?
- What are the acceptable arrangements of the flames?
- How to distinguish the shammash?
- What order to add the candles?
- What order to light the candles?
- Blessings for lighting?
- Nine: one for each of the eight nights, plus one for the shammash or servant candle.
- Must be in a straight line, to avoid the appearance of a bonfire. Flames should be obviously separate from one another. That means my Dad’s antique v-8 distributor cap is a no-no. Bummer.
- Shammash may be placed at a different height, or outside the line of the other candles.
- Add candles from right to left.
- Light candles from left to right (light the newest night’s candle first).
- See this link at MyJewishLearning.com for blessings.
Morim.org (teacher site) Chanukah lesson plans for ages 5-7. Includes all the rules about making and lighting menorahs.