Tag Archives: Hanukkah

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

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

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

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

Mini Havdalah candle (twisted Hanukkah candles)

quick, cheap DIY

quick, cheap DIY

What if you want kids to make Havdalah candles and you don’t have the time and materials (or inclination) for nice, beeswax versions?  I’m the first to admit that candles from scratch can be a big to-do—even just the simple, rolled sheets.
Rejoice: all you really need are leftover Hanukkah candles, a bowl and a teakettle.
Just twist two warmed Hanukkah candles to create one mini Havdalah candle.  It’s an easy, cheap DIY that can make any Havdalah lesson hands-on and memorable. Continue reading

8 Nights, 8 LEGO minifig flames

LEGO minifig menorah

LEGO minifig menorah

Couldn’t help myself.

Happy 8th night, y’all.

Continue reading

Gelt S’mores (and a Hanukkah miracle)

Dark chocolate Hanukkah Gelt S'more

Dark chocolate Hanukkah Gelt S’more

Hanukkah lasts eight days, eight looooong days. Gelt S’mores help keep things lively. Continue reading

Squirt the Menorah: Hanukkah game

Squirt the Menorah

I live in Nashville, so I’m not so much in touch with the rest of the Hanukkah carnivalling world.  Is “Squirt the Menorah” a popular Hanukkah game?  The only Google hits seem to be my own.

I should say “Squirt the Hanukkiyah,” but it doesn’t have the right ring to it.  Menorah works fine in this case.

Now, usually, when we light Hanukkah candles, they stay lit until they go out by themselves.  It’s a no-no to blow them out or extinguish them in any way.  Squirt the Menorah involves shooting water pistols at a lit menorah, which sounds pretty treyf to me.  But we don’t play it during Hanukkah on the really real candles, the candles upon which we’ve said the commanded blessings and all.  No, we play Squirt the Menorah ahead of time, when it’s okay to extinquish the candles with a squirt gun.  Odd, but okay. Continue reading

Hanukkah Connect-4: the Gelt Edition

Real Gelt Connect-4

“Real Gelt” Connect-4

Games and crafts should say, “touch me.”   Whether in a whisper or a scream, they should entice.  And what screams “touch me” like chocolate?

Here’s a variation on a classic board game perfect for Hanukkah parties, carnivals or just fun at home:

Connect 4 with real chocolate gelt.

Simple, yes?  You’d think.  But size matters.  We all know gelt brands vary in palatability, but they also vary in diameter and width. And successive generations of Connect Four frames vary in inner dimensions.  The old yellow and blue frames—some with tab and slot assembly, some with pin and hole assembly—are not created equal, and the snazzy new dark blue versions are totally different.  (Any of these will do, but not the new Launchers incarnation or the travel size game.)

Continue reading

Review: Jewish Holidays in a Box (Hanukkah Kit)

photo courtesy of JewishHolidaysinaBox.com

Jewish Holidays in a Box is a nifty concept: one kit per holiday with how-tos, whys and whats tucked neatly inside.

This post is a review of the newly-released Hanukkah Kit, which is the first in a series of kits from Jewish Holidays in a Box. The kit is aimed at children ages 4-10, Continue reading

PVC Menorah: advice needed


my DIY PVC menorah, so far

my DIY PVC menorah, so far

EDIT: Please see the finished version at PVC Menorah Kit for kids, revised. It turned out SO WELL. Kids love taking it apart and putting it back together (and so do I).

PVC Menorah, ready to disassemble and reassemble

finished PVC Menorah, ready to disassemble and reassemble!

For the synagogue’s Chanukah Carnival this year, I want to add a Build a Menorah station for kids. The goal: to assemble a menorah from bits of PVC pipe, and then to “light” it with hardware or pipe caps.  They don’t get to keep the menorah and it won’t actually work (as in, it isn’t wired and it isn’t fire-safe for candles).  No, the real goal is the process: for kids to figure out how all the pieces can fit together properly, and then to take them apart for the next person to try.  They can choose to make a 7-branch Temple Menorah or a 9-branch Hanukkah Menorah (Hanukkiyah). Continue reading

Origami Dreidels

Origami Dreidel station at a Hanukkah carnival

Origami Dreidel station at a Hanukkah carnival

This is a classic design, and fairly easy to teach to little kids. It comes from Florence Temko’s book Jewish Origami (still in print). Continue reading

Hanukkah Parent Guidelines: Politically Correct info card

click the pdf link below to print

click the pdf link below to print

In the Dreidel Cookies post, I mentioned a little card attached to the cookies dressed for a bake sale. I couldn’t bear the thought that the cookies, created with such intent, might get scarfed down without the scarfer understanding what they were scarfing. The card explained the name and meaning of each letter.

Same with the little dreidel/candy gifts we brought for my son’s class. (I did cave and add one piece of gelt to the dreidel, but I’m not sure I’ll do this next year. See “Hanukkah Parent Guidelines” post about such things.) I made a slightly different card for the dreidels: Continue reading

Dreidel Cookies

Dreidel cookies, chocolate letters

Dreidel cookies, chocolate letters

If I’d known royal icing was so easy, I’d have made it long before now. Two ingredients (plus color) make a gloppy paste easily scooped and squirted onto the baked good of choice, and later, after it dries, it becomes a beautifully smooth concrete. The perfect medium with which to anchor these little Hebrew letters made from a candy mold. Continue reading

I made it out of clay

we made them out of clay

We sing the song every year:

Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay, and when it’s dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play.

But I’ve never actually made a dreidel out of clay, nor of anything else.  Neither had my 3 year-old. So this year we got busy. Continue reading

Hanukkah Parent guidelines

A Duplo Temple and a jar of olives.

Guidelines for Hanukkah Parent visits: where are they?

All over the country, volunteer parents are visiting their child’s classrooms and representing the entire Jewish people in 15 minutes or less.

In the spirit of “sharing traditions,” we bring a book, maybe some dreidels, some gelt (its never too early to jump-start a child’s association of Jews and money…see below), and a menorah. Hands-on parents bring all this stuff, and we check if we are allowed to actually light the menorah (and if we are allowed to keep the candles burning or blow them out far, far from the smoke detector).

Out of the dozens of books I’ve accumulated the last 16 years, plus the books I see at shul and in the library and in the bookstore (that just closed forever), why is it I can’t find a single one I LIKE? Continue reading

Daycare December Dilemma

The adorable and sweetly-meant tshirt above illustrates the raison d’etre of this blog: what it is like to live Jewishly when 99.08 percent of the people around you aren’t Jewish. The Toddler came home with this “holiday gift,” which his teachers at daycare imagined to be a neutral, politically-correct offering. I am delighted to have it, mind you, because it is now a sacred object: it has my child’s hand and foot-print on it forever. I can never, ever get enough hand and feet prints, and if someone else does the messy work of getting them onto paper and fabric, so much the better. But, it is most definitely not neutral or politically correct. It is not a winter gift, a Frosty gift, or a holiday gift. It is a Christmas gift, and we don’t celebrate Christmas. Continue reading

Wrapping Up Hanukkah

Yes, during Hanukkah I made a Buche de Noel for the Teenager’s French class party. And really, it isn’t much different from the Jewish Jelly Roll tradition. Except, Jewish Jelly Rolls don’t pretend to be Christmas logs…
I am especially proud of the meringue mushrooms, oui?

After 8 days and nights, the Toddler never did figure out gelt was edible. He hoarded it, stacked it, skated on it, and shoved it behind books in every reachable bookcase, but he never realized what was beneath that shiny foil. (The dog did, however, and it is for times like this that I buy paper towels. Up came the foil, the chocolate, and other things one doesn’t like to see puddled on the kitchen floor.) Continue reading

Dreidel dearth

found at the flea market

My mom bought these banged-up lights at a flea market from an old man with very few teeth. He told her they’d been “real handy at the camp.” From this she gathered that they’d been used as lighting for a hunting campsite. I’m sure he had no notion of the original purpose, nor that he’d invented a new variation on the Holiday of Lights. Continue reading