Category Archives: Hanukkah

Dreidel Boredom Prevention

caramel dreidel

spinning caramel dreidel

Midweek-Hanukkah Dreidel boredom? I hear from grownups every year: “five minutes and they’re done with dreidel.”
Either I’m an infant or you guys aren’t playing right. You don’t have to play the dreidel game and only the dreidel game.
Upside-down launches, launch from a standing throw, dreidel wars, spin contests, instant battle arenas, glow-in-the-dark paint and so forth can sustain dreidel love for more than 5 minutes. It’s about the love of spin. Continue reading

Manischewitz Tiki Torch Menorah

Manischewitz tiki torch menorah 2

Manischewitz Tiki Torch oil Menorah

A new lamp for the concord of our souls at the festival of lights: the Manischewitz Tiki Torch Menorah.

Happy Hanukkah, friends. Continue reading

Menorah Free-Build (Duplo, candles, PVC), Temple Free-Build

Building menorahs 2

Builders at work

Once you’ve covered the basic rules of kosher menorah structure, practiced the sequences of adding candles and lighting them, and have worked on the blessings, it’s time for free build. The setup can’t be easier, but the rewards are big. Continue reading

DIY Menorahs from Repurposed or Otherwise Interesting Materials


building the PVC menorah at a carnival

All my DIY Hanukkah menorahs are made with repurposed materials, scrap or otherwise compelling components. Meatloaf? Easter eggs? Car parts? Marmite jars? Swim noodles? Plumbing supplies? LEGO, too, of course. And more. Irresistible materials attract builders. To build any menorah is a far deeper learning experience than to simply color one on a sheet of paper. Our builders need to build because they are building themselves. Continue reading

Bottle Lid Menorah (flame or LED)


upcycled scrap hanukkiyah

Scraptastic or simply crap?
Here’s why I vote for the former:
Orange juice lids are the exactly perfect right size for tealight candles. I dare you to not enjoy slipping a candle into the inner ring of an upturned Tropicana lid. Irresistible. Kids love it. (Teach them the word “frisson” while you’re at it.) Continue reading

Menorah vs. Hanukkiyah (easy show ‘n’ tell)

menorah trio trimmed


A Menorah is a lamp. A lamp is a menorah.

A Hanukkah menorah  is a hanukkiyah.

This little set up (above) is so easy to assemble, and its a great way to start a class about menorah structure, rules, and vocab. Continue reading

LEGO menorah: Star Wars (flameless)

LEGO Star Wars minifig menorah

LEGO Return of the Jedi minifig menorah

Hanukkah and Star Wars. Both stories involve Rebels vs. an Imperial Army. Both stories incite argument about what is in the “canon” and what isn’t.* Continue reading

K’Nex Dreidel Launcher

K'NEX dreidel and launcher

K’NEX dreidel and launcher

A K’NEX dreidel launcher. Because people tell me that dreidels can get boring. Continue reading

Spinning Origami Dreidel

Paul Jackson's "Dreidl" made by 3 generations

Spinning “Dreidl” models

A 3-D paper dreidel that spins can attract kids who normally run the other way when they see origami on offer.  It moves. Continue reading

Burning Questions about DIY Candleholders

Motivated by news that a friend’s child-crafted Model Magic menorah caught fire last night, I offer some tips. Not in the superior tone of the irksome “You’re Doing It Wrong” trend, but as a fellow parent of children who come home from Sunday School clutching hand-made Judaica meant to contain naked flame. Continue reading

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