The word “quiz” is instant Carnival buzzkill, right? Hardly the sort of catchy title to entice kids to a Chanukah Carnival station. But really, it is a quiz, my activity, not a game. And if it’s facilitated in the right spirit, it will be fun. And educational. And memorable. I promise.
The goal is not to be the Kosher Police, nor to shame a child who last week crafted an exquisite chanukiyah that, according to this quiz, is not “kosher,” nor to cast aspersions upon Bubbe’s electric menorah, no, neither upon a Jewish Camper’s every-flame-at-a-different-layer woodshop project. Nope. The goal is to teach the traditional rules of a Chanukah menorah and to teach them in a way that is hands-on, quick, fun and ends with chocolate.
A spirit of inquiry should prevail, a spirit of “these are the Menorah guidelines in the Talmud.” Ideally, quiz-takers will be talking, pointing, asking, wondering aloud why this or that menorah might be kosher or not. Students are welcome to touch, thus I am allowed to call this “hands-on.” Who can look at a LEGO chanukiyah and NOT pull the dragon flame out of a minifig head?
- Post the rules as simply (and as large) as possible.
- Promise chocolate.
- Make checklist voting cards. Make sure they include simple pictures for kids too young to read.
- Set out a jar of pencils. Or, use little stickers as markers.
- Make a box to collect the checklists for a prize draw later. Assign someone to hand out bags of gelt at the box.
- On a table, line up Examples labelled “A” through “H.” Make sure you have at least two kosher models. Non-kosher models should vary in non-kosherness, and be interesting.
Here’s what I included this year:
A. Oil chanukiyah (kosher)
B. LED (battery) tea-light chanukiyah (DIY here) (battery = not kosher)
C. Electric chanukiyah (electric = not kosher)
D. Brass menorah with 7 flames (7 flames = not kosher)
E. Menurkey (DIY here) (uneven flame height = not kosher)
F. Distributor Cap Chanukiyah from a V-8 engine (DIY here) (circle = not kosher)
G. LEGO minifig Chanukiyah (DIY here) (not real flames = not kosher)
H. PVC fittings + wax tea-lights (Handyman Chanukiyah DIY) (kosher)
“Some Traditional Chanukiyah Rules:”
- 8 flames, plus the helper flame: the shamash
- The shamash should be set apart from the 8 (higher or lower)
- The flames should not be too close together (observers need to be able to count flames at a glance)
- The flames should be in a straight line
- The flames should be on an even level (except the shamash)
Next year, there will not be a Menurkey, obviously, but I’d like to add a small desk lamp, which is technically a “menorah” in Hebrew. Menorah simply means “lamp.” A Chanukah menorah is a chanukiyah.
I’d also like to add a tabletop “ice menorah,” which I just heard about thanks to a friend’s fb post. It’ll require a pre-chilled beer cooler, but what a conversation starter. Conversation is what I WANT.
There are more rules, of course, depending on your tradition, so if you are considering this activity, check with your Rabbi about the local low-down for your particular congregation.
The Kosher Menorah Quiz rotation was self-serve. Students and families drifted to it on their way from “Sufganiyah on a String” to my “Chanukah Blessings Practice” station (where everyone got a free box of candles). Here are quickie signs I made. Yours can be bigger and better: