Chanukah

What the shmita year can teach us about Chanukah

JERUSALEM (JTA) — When the Maccabees climbed the stairs of the Temple in Jerusalem, they lit the menorah with the knowledge that there was only enough oil to last for one day. Only a miracle could turn oil into a renewable resource. And the future of the planet urges… Read more »

CHANUKAH FEATURE: Getting gelt was good as gold

Holding fistfuls of dollars for the family gelt line in the early 2000s are, from left, Lou Hasson, Gene Levey, Stanley Berko and the late Julius Karabel. (Randie Laine K)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — What can a buck get you on Hanukkah? Maybe a gold mesh bag of chocolate coins or a lighter for your menorah. But Jewish continuity? At Hanukkah time, when we get so wrapped up in gift giving, I propose that it’s a single dollar of… Read more »

CHANUKAH FEATURE: Celebrating Eric Kimmel’s Hershel, meeting new characters

BOSTON (JTA) — Back in 1984, when Eric Kimmel was an up-and-coming children‘sbook author, he tried his hand at a Hanukkah story, one featuring goblins. Overly cautious Jewish editors rejected the manuscript, not knowing what to make of it, Kimmel recalled.“It was strange. It didn’t look like any other Hanukkah books and didn’t… Read more »

FIRST PERSON: Thoughts of Hanukkah applesauce and a bygone era

BALTIMORE (JTA) – Beyond the rusty orange leaves, the sky hugging the orchard flourished in pastel blue – a hue that surprisingly didn’t define my mood while stretched out upon the grass, head nestled in interlocked palms that sweet October day. Surprisingly because the Sunday afternoon outing marked a… Read more »

With mega-menorah, Dutch Christians help Jews come out of their shell

The Christians for Israel menorah being mounted in Nijkerk near Amsterdam on Nov. 25, 2013. (Sara van Oordt, Christians for Israel)

BERLIKUM, Netherlands (JTA) — In a windswept parking lot near the North Sea shore, Klaas Zijlstra stands motionless as he admires his latest creation. It’s the first time he is testing the 36-foot menorah he has spent weeks designing and building in the shape of a Star of David… Read more »

Sweets to celebrate joy of ‘Thanksgivukkah’

In honor of “Thanksgivukkah,” as some are calling the joyous mingling of Thanksgiving and Chanukah this year, these dessert options present a new twist on sweet potatoes and pumpkin. The pumpkin challah bread pudding can be made pareve.  GLUTEN-FREE SWEET POTATO CHEESECAKE Daphna and Eyal Ron, co-owners of Tucson’s… Read more »

Pass the cranberry latkes: When holidays collide

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — If the Pilgrims are lighting menorahs and the Maccabees are chasing turkeys, it must be Thanksgivukkah, as some have come to call the confluence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah that will happen this year on Nov. 28. It’s a rare event, one that won’t occur again… Read more »

At Thanksgivukkah, celebrate uniqueness of the separate holidays

NEW YORK (JTA) — Some folks are taking the rare confluence this year of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to heart, renaming it Thanksgivukkah, redesigning their menus for the occasion (latkes topped with cranberry relish anyone?) and refashioning ritual objects (a turkey-shaped hanukkiyah called the Menurkey is gaining traction on Kickstarter).… Read more »

New books: Marvelous menorahs, purple gorillas and back to ’64 Berkeley

The title aside, Esther the purple gorilla and friends celebrate the holiday in "Esther's Hanukkah Disaster." (Kar-Ben Publishing)

BOSTON (JTA) –A gift-giving, angst-ridden purple gorilla is among the characters who help enliven the Hanukkah celebrations in eight new holiday books for children, families and young adults. One, “With a Mighty Hand,” is not about Hanukkah but will be a treasured gift to add to a family’s bookshelves.… Read more »

Be Kind: Winterhaven Festival of Lights, December 2012

The Silverman family's kindness yard at night in Winterhaven (Gila Silverman)

I live in a neighborhood known for its Christmas festival. Several years ago, I wrote an essay for this paper, describing our decision to build a giant dreidel for the festival, and reflecting on the experience of living here. That essay ended with this thought: Sometimes a giant dreidel… Read more »

New children’s books: high seas adventures, food and fun

In "Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue," author Heidi Smith Hyde explores what it means to hide one's identity through the tale of a spirited 9-year-old boy in a Massachusetts port town. (Courtesy Kar-Ben Publishing)

BOSTON (JTA) — An imaginative historical tale of adventure set on the high seas will captivate young readers this Chanukah season. “Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue” is one of a few new children’s books for the eight day Festival of Lights, which begins this year on the evening of… Read more »

8 tips for an accessible Chanukah

NEWTON, Mass. (JTA) — Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, a Boston-based agency for Jewish special education, is offering eight suggestions from experts for a Chanukah celebration that is child friendly and fully accessible for children with special learning needs: 1. As Jewish parents and educators, we place a lot of… Read more »

CHANUKAH FEATURE: Teaching children the joy of mitzvot at holiday time

Diane Heiman, co-author of "It's a...It's a...It's a Mitzvah," with children at a JCC of Greater Washington book event. (Courtesy Diane Heiman)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Chanukah, when children look forward to getting gifts and gelt, is an ideal time to recall Judaism’s commitment to helping others and tikkun olam, repairing the world. Two recently published books, “The Mitzvah Project Book: Making Mitzvah Part of Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah … and your… Read more »

8 tips for an accessible Chanukah

NEWTON, Mass. (JTA) — Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, a Boston-based agency for Jewish special education, is offering eight suggestions from experts for a Chanukah celebration that is child friendly and fully accessible for children with special learning needs: 1. As Jewish parents and educators, we place a lot of… Read more »

Shining a new light on the Jewish response to Christmas

From Kung Pao kosher comedy to a swinging Mardi Gras version of the “Dreidel” song, two new Chanukah season releases explore the intriguing, delightful and sometimes perplexing ways in which American Jews have responded to Christmas. In a book and an audio CD compilation, the holiday season known as… Read more »

Candlelighting celebrates paths to courage

Writer Dasee Berkowitz’s 4-year-old son, Tamir, prepares to battle the the bad guys — his way of showing courage, which we celebrate at Chanukah. (Courtesey Dasee Berkowitz)

My 4-year-old son is obsessed with superheroes, dressing up at every opportunity as the superhero du jour to do battle with the bad guys lurking around the corner. (My 2-year-old daughter is just as enthusiastic, but at her age all she can really muster is a “meanie” face.) From… Read more »

‘New Kosher Cuisine’ extends to baked latkes, healthy eating habits

Roast capon with olives makes a great Chanukah dish -- especially for olive lovers. (Ann Stratton)

When I married 55 years ago, I knew nothing about cooking. I grew up during war years in Europe when food was not available. So my exposure to food, and particularly traditional food, was nonexistent. After I married, I decided to take cooking classes, first studying with chef Michael… Read more »