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December 05, 1986 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

s your gift list ready?
There are less than 20 shopping
days left until Chanukah.
Every family approaches
Chanukah gift-giving in its own
unique way. Will it be Teddy Ruxpin
or Torah Teddy? The Art of French
Cooking or The Complete Passover
Cookbook? Or will there be any gifts
at all?
While Chanukah gift-giving is
as American as apple pie, gifts actu-
ally have nothing at all to do with
the holiday's religious or historical
meaning. (Sorry kids, I'm not really
the Grinch who stole Chanukah.
Just keep reading.)
"The only historical exchange of
gifts, written into Jewish law, is on
Purim, when we give each other
Shalach Manot, explains Rabbi
Shmuel Lopin, principal of Akiva
Hebrew Day School. "Traditionally,
gelt is given on Chanukah, but not
as an act of sheer gift-giving."
Rabbi Lopin recounts a story at-
tributed to Chabaethat explains the
importance of gelt on Chanukah.
The Hebrew word for education,
chinuch can be found in the Hebrew

"Sometimes the noise
of wrapping paper is
even more exciting
than the actual gift."

word Chanukah. In Europe, it was
traditional on Chanukah for fathers
and grandfathers to kindheartedly
test' their children on their Torah
learning. As positive reinforcement
for the learning, the children would
be given several coins.
"There is a modern meaning in
this story for us," Lopin says. If the
goal of Chanukah is educational and
one of re-dedication to Torah and a
Jewish way of life, then gifts that
build character and educate are very
"If gifts are given apart from the
symbols, prayers and story of
Chanukah, then we are just copying
the commercial aspects of Christmas.
Our children will be duped into feel-
ing Chanukah is nothing but a pale
imitation of Christmas."
Rabbi Lopin's family tradi-
tionally exchanges small gifts as
part of a larger Chanukah celebra-
tion. We come together each night
as family, light the candles, sing the
blessings and songs, share
Chanukah stories, talk about the
past and discuss the holiday's mean-
"Gifts are important for chil-
dren," adds Lopin. "Gifts make chil-
dren feel happy and optomistic. They
emphasize the holiday and bring ex-

Avrom Borenstein
cuddles the Torah

citement. As long as they are kept
within the larger holiday framework
and reinforce the holiday's values,
they will be meaningful."
Rene Wohl, director of the Mid-
rasha College of Jewish Studies, and
her husband Milt work hard to
create a meaningful and exciting
Chanukah for their young sons:
Josh, 6, and Dani, 3. "Our children
love Sukkot, Chanukah and
Passover because so much is going
on in our home," she says.
The Wohls feel comfortable giv-
ing their children gifts at Chanukah.
"We feel we are adopting the tradi-
tion of gelt. For small children, gifts
are so exciting. Sometimes, the noise
of wrapping paper is even more ex-
citing than the actual gift."
They look for gifts the entire
family can share. "Last year we
bought the boys a large hockey
game. We played it all year long and
thought of Chanukah," Rene adds.
The Wohls have created several
Chanukah family traditions. "We
have collected many different
chanukiah. The children even made
some at school. Every night, we each
light our own chanukiah and say the
blessings," Rene says.
After songs, the children have a
treasure hunt. "Milt buys lots of lit-
tle presents," Rene explains, "like
miniature cars, dreidels, or stickers
that he wraps and hides all over the
house. He gives the children clues in
the form of poems that often involve
knowing Chanukah symbols and the
Rene buys holiday books and re-
cords to add to the children's grow-
ing Judaica library. Her children's
favorite is Stories for Children by
I.B. Singer, published in 1984 by
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. "The
book includes at least five Chanukah
stories. The boys ask me to read
these stories over and over all dur-
ing the year.
"Sometimes those who are un-
comfortable with their heritage or do
not have full knowledge of
Chanukah's meaning and spirit will
put the emphasis on gifts," Rene
says. "If people take time to educate
themselves, the holiday will become
more meaningful." The Hanukkah
Anthology, by Philip Goodman The
First Jewish Catalog, compiled and
edited by Richard Siegel and Sharon
and Michael Strassfeld and The
Jewish Holidays: A Guide and
Commentary by Michael Strassfield,
all published by the Jewish Publica-
tion Society, offer adult insight into
the meaning and celebration of
Borenstein's Book and Music
Store in Oak Park offers families
one-stop Chanukah shopping. Avrom
Borenstein feels he has "a responsi-
bility to cater to the entire Jewish

Continued on next page

Grab Bag

From Torah Teddy to G.I. Joe,
children and adults anticipate
traditional and modern
Chanukah presents


Special to The Jewish News


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