A few years ago I was in a grocery store and realized there was no section for Passover. Aisles and aisles dedicated to Easter, but no Passover. It’s something I had become sensitive to since moving down south; the assumption that everyone is Christian. And, in their defense, most are where I live. I grew up knowing people of many different faiths and I think that’s helped shape and inform my world outlook. I believe the more you know and experience other religions and cultures the less likely you are to fear or “other” them.
There’s also a family connection. My great-grandfather was a Jew who escaped Ukraine around 1918 and came to America. My grandparents decided not to carry on the Jewish faith, whether it was because of fear of retribution, desire to assimilate, an apathy towards religion or all of the above. Whatever the reason I feel myself becoming more connected to the Jewish faith as I mature. Drawn to the ancient traditions and want to bring them to life, especially now that I have kids. I want -no, need – my kids to know their full heritage. Understand that their Jewish ancestors were seen as the inferior, so that history does not repeat itself and they do not become the oppressors to other groups of people. Two years ago I hosted our first Passover Seder and now we’re celebrating the first night of Hanukkah, latkes and all.
Since the kids are being homeschooled this year I’ve been able to incorporate Judiaism into our daily learning. I find children learn best when they get to explore a topic through different avenues. Interested in introducing Hanukkah to your kids? Here are some ideas of things to do, to make, to watch and to read.
“Dreidel Garland” We love a good craft in this household, especially if it involves items we already have around the house. We made this painted dreidel garland by first tracing and cutting out dreidels on craft paper, painting them, punching holes in the top and then using some leftover string to create a garland.
“Menorah Print Out” A counting lesson and craft in one! Connect the numbers to finish the menorah. Color in the picture, leaving the candles blank so you can color them in each evening, representing the 8 nights of Hanukkah.
“Latkes” You can’t have Hanukkah without latkes. This is my favorite gluten-free recipe for latkes (they are so good and crispy!) Serve with sour cream and applesauce.
“Brisket” Nothing is better than the smell of brisket cooking all day. I use a simple recipe from my friend, but here is a similar one.
“Matzo Ball Soup” – A staple that hits all the right notes on a cold winter’s night. Make a big batch and freeze to enjoy later!
“The Story of Hanukkah” I like this video because it’s kid-friendly with cartoons, but it also has a real message that adults can also appreciate. Plus, it’s less than 4 minutes, so perfect for those shorter attention spans.
“Winter Holidays” Brain Pop Jr. is a consistent favorite of ours. While this focuses on several holidays there is a portion dedicated to Hanukkah.
“Learn to Light the Chanukah Candles” Great explainer on how to light the candles including the prayers! My kids loved hearing the singsong nature of the Hebrew prayers.
This is a family that loves books. Books are a great way to spark conversation on any topic.
“A Hanukkah with Mazel” – Super sweet book about a painter who finds a lost cat during Hanukkah and has to get creative with the paint he has to finish his Menorah.
“Celebrating Holidays: Hanukkah” – Good book for beginning readers.
Do you have a favorite Hanukkah tradition?Share below!