Hanukkah gift ideas for newcomers to the tribe

(MyJewishLearning via JTA) — Do you have friends or family members who are new to the tribe? Maybe they recently converted, married a Jew or became newly interested in their Jewish roots? Or maybe you’re the newbie and are wondering what to put on your wish list.

Whatever the particulars, MyJewishLearning has you covered, with Hanukkah gift ideas designed to please the Jewish newbies in your life.


Amelia Saltsman’s “The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen” ($20.23), Leah Koenig’s “Modern Jewish Cooking” ($23.33) and chef/restaurateur Michael Solomonov’s “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking” ($21) all offer traditional Jewish and Israeli standbys adapted to contemporary tastes and sensibilities. Each was published recently (reducing the possibility that your recipient already owns it) and garnered positive reviews in mainstream and Jewish publications.

“Meatballs and Matzah Balls” ($27.95) is not quite as new — it came out in 2013 — but will be of particular interest to Jewish newcomers since its author, Marcia Friedman, is a Jew by choice who combines Italian (she is half Sicilian) and Jewish cuisine in creative and tasty ways.

Other kitchen goodies

Maybe your Jewish newbie wants to make challah but is a bit intimidated by the braiding. A silicon challah mold ($14) simplifies the process. Meanwhile, someone making the transition from Christmas cookies to Hanukkah cookies might appreciate a set of Hanukkah-themed cookie cutters ($1.60).

Hanukkiyahs, or menorahs

What’s more fitting for Hanukkah than a menorah? Just make sure you give this one early in the holiday, so the recipient gets to use it this year. A convenient option is a compact travel menorah, perfect for someone who wants to celebrate the holiday outside the home.

Kiddush cups

For something flashy and unique — or for someone who is a bit germ-phobic — try a Kiddush Fountain, which pours the wine or grape juice into individual cups. Amazon and other retailers have a wide variety of styles and price points.

Challah covers

FairTradeJudaica offers an array of Judaica items produced by artisans in developing countries. These certified fair trade items are not just beautiful, you can rest easy knowing the workers received fair pay in safe conditions and that no child labor was used.

Shabbat candlesticks

For something traditional and inexpensive, try some pewter ones (Amazon has them) that come with a plate for catching the wax drippings.


We like this one on Amazon (  an intricate one decorated with a Jerusalem scene, which comes with a scroll.


A silver Star of David is simple and matches everything. And a custom-made Hebrew necklace  is a great option for a Jew by choice who wants to show off his or her new Hebrew name (and newfound Hebrew literacy).


The “Not In the Tribe, But I Dig the Vibe” T-shirt ($48) is perfect (albeit a bit on the pricy side) for someone who is married to a Jew or simply likes hanging out with them, while dreidel-print leggings ($28) allow Jews and non-Jews to subtly (and comfortably) demonstrate their Hanukkah spirit.

(Julie Wiener is managing editor of MyJewishLearning.