Five Chanukah Traditions for the Jewish Savvy Auntie
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
Once in a while, we come across a guest Expert who has something impactful to contribute to the Savvy Auntie Community. Jewish Treats, a popular daily email and blog, offered us some wonderful Chanukah traditions to share with our nieces and nephews:
Like most Jewish holidays, Chanukah is an opportunity for families to connect. Whether that means getting together for a Chanukah party or exchanging holiday focused greeting cards, Chanukah is a time when people think about those near to them.
In view of the history of the holiday, this makes a lot of sense. The Syrian-Greeks tried to force the Jews to assimilate...eventually using force to forbid such basic Jewish activities as learning Torah and brit milah (circumcision). And when the Jews are put under such duress, they naturally come together and draw strength from one another.
“Oh Chanukah, oh Chanukah, come light the menorah.”
Chanukah is also known as a holiday of chinukh (education). Both Chanukah and Chinukh share the same root letters – and from the focus on education arose the custom of gift giving. Originally, children were given gelt (money) as a reward for knowing about the holiday, its story and its laws and customs. Over time, however, the gelt turned into presents and the reason for the reward was blurred into a general desire to create positive, joyous Jewish experiences.
What does this mean for the Savvy Auntie of today? It means that there are a delightful variety of ways to make Chanukah both a fun and meaningful way to spend time with your nieces and nephews! Here are just a few suggestions:
Donut Delights: Forget the potato latkes (hey, aren’t potatoes a vegetable!) Why not really spoil those adorable nieces/nephews with a special delivery of fresh sufganiyot - donuts. Donuts, like latkes, are a special food of Chanukah because they are fried in oil.
Great Gift Giver: Since Chanukah is about chinukh (Jewish education), scout out your local Jewish bookstore (or online Jewish bookstore) and send your niece/nephew a great Jewish book.
Running Telephone Story: This is one for the Long Distance Auntie (LDA). Write out the story of Chanukah and divide it into 8 different sections, ending with a cliff hanger wherever possible. Each night of Chanukah, call up your nieces/nephews for a new “installation” of the heroic tale of the Maccabees.
Dreidel Competition: If you come from a big family that lives close to one another, gather all of your nieces and nephews together for a Dreidel competition. Dreidel, the famous spinning top game, has easy rules and can be played by most kids over 5. (For more on the dreidel and how to play, click here).
One-on-One Time: With Chanukah overlapping the other holiday of the season, many kids are off from school–and so are many grown-ups. Why not try to plan a special Chanukah outing!
Beyond all else, Chanukah is a holiday about Jewish identity and Jewish pride. By making the most of the holiday, demonstrating its warmth and the broad variety of holiday customs, every Jewish Savvy Auntie is giving their nieces/nephews the greatest Chanukah gift of all.
For more Chanukah ideas, Follow Jewish Treats on Twitter at Twitter.com/JewishTweets.
Republished: December 21, 2011