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December 07, 1990 - Image 166

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-12-07

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Kislev Connection: Family Chanukah Celebrations


Many families are troubled by
the commercialism that has become
the centerpiece of Chanukah. We
are aware why this has happened,
but are hard put to change its
course. Below is a list of family
activities that attempt to focus
Chanukah evenings on something
other than who gets the biggest gift.
These evenings can be even more
wonderful if you find several other
families with whom you can

Chanukah Inside Out

If Chanukah is a time of gift
giving in your home, it is also a
great time to teach children about
giving to people that they may
never have met or known. At the
grocery store, have children select
an item or two of food on each trip
for a food bank such as Oakland
County Food Bank or Yad Ezra.
Make a Chanukah shelf to store all
of these items, and then on the
Sunday of Chanukah pack them up
and take your whole family to
deliver the food to the food bank.

Family Journal

A nice way to record
Chanukah from year to year is to

keep a giant Chanukah journal.
Record or interview everybody each
night. When the kids are really
young the journal will have only
your thoughts. As they get older, you
can enter their thoughts until
they're old enough to write and
contribute themselves. You could
have a limerick night or a wish night
or a night to record what they would
give the world. This is a guaranteed
heirloom. Figure out a way to make
copies, so everyone has one in the

Dreidel Games

Plan a family dreidel-a-thon.
You can play for the regular stakes
of walnuts, pennies or chocolates,
or for bonus prizes like a family trip
to the movies or a special outing.
Ron Wolfson, author of "The Art of
Jewish Living," describes a dreidel
game called "Susie's Surprise." In
this version of dreidel, walnuts are
split in half perfectly, ahead of time.
After removing the walnut meat, the
empty shells are filled with coins or
dollar bills and carefully
reassembled with glue. The special
walnuts are added to a bowl of
regular nuts. Dreidel takes place as
usual, but at the end everyone
opens his walnuts. There are some
very lucky winners.

Holiday Meaning On Move

Continued from Page L-1

of formal guidelines and
expectations as does Passover.
B. Even for families who are
very secure in their Jewishness,
Christmas represents a perceived
threat. The topic of resisting
Christmas took up far more time
than did the observance of

C. It has become a North
American tradition to maximize the
Chanukah experience (out of
competition with Christmas). North
American Jews have evolved a kind
of super-Chanukah celebration with
"eight nights' worth of presents,"



27676 Franklin Road
Southfield, Michigan 48034
December 7, 1990
Associate Publisher Arthur M. Horwitz
Jewish Experiences for Families
Adviser Harlene W. Appelman



major decorations, a huge family
gathering, etc. These actions are
designed to foster "Jewish pride,"
especially for the children. However,
for some families, this super-
Chanukah experience has begun to
feel overblown and artificial.
D. The Christmas tree once
served as an effective boundary
line. It served as a way of
separating the "real" Jews from
those who would rapidly disappear.
Although some Jews did have
decorated bushes and trees, they
were kept with a certain
embarrassment which
acknowledged the boundary as they
crossed it. Today, almost every
Jewish family has non-Jewish
relatives who respectfully and
appropriately celebrate Christmas.
The boundary between "us" and
"them" has been blurred —
Chanukah and Christmas are now
related by marriage, and keeping
them distinct, if not apart,
represents a new and formidable

Reprinted with permission from,
"The Art of Jewish
Living/Chanukah," 1990.

Make Your Own Gifts

Making special gifts for close
friends and relatives can be very
exciting. It's important to find
materials that are unusual and that
the craftsmen (both large and small)
will really want to use. The other
thing that makes this event
significant is everyone works
together on gifts. The kitchen, living
room or family room should be
turned into a factory of sorts.
Whether it's puffy paint T-shirts or
special cookies from the kitchen,
with the recipe attached, this type of
evening is as special for the givers
as it is for the receivers.

Chanukah Games Night

Put together Chanukah or
Jewish themes for games such as

charades, Pictionary or Trivial
Pursuit. If you are inviting guests,
have each family bring either a
Jewish game or a Jewish variation
of a commercial game. Make sure
you have prizes that are really
clever, and favors for everyone. A
Chanukah family game night for
family and friends will definitely be

Recording Night

Set aside an evening to record
family greetings and stories. Either
prepare a special audio or video
tape for grandparents (or
grandchildren) or one with family
stories on it for your own family.
Many times we think about doing
this type of project, but unless we
planfully set aside the time, we


By Judy Silverman
(Copyright 1990, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)
A HOLIDAY FOR NOAH, by Susan Remick Topek; il-
lustrated by Sally Springer, Kar-Ben Copies, Rockville, Md.
1990. 24 pages. Age 3 to 6.
Noah's favorite day is Shabbat. Every day at his Jewish
nursery school he asks his teacher, "Is today a holiday?" but
it never is — that is, until Friday, the "challah-eating day"! Four-
or 5-year-olds might even catch this play on words.
BIBLE HEROES I CAN BE, by Ann Eisenberg; illustrated
by Rosalyn Schanzer. Kay-Ben Copies, Rockville, Md. 1990.
22 pages. Ages 3 to 6.
Children don't have to do heroic things to be like Bible
heroes. Simple, everyday activities have parallels in Bible
stories — welcoming strangers, being kind of animals, learn-
ing "something new every day" — even the youngest child
can see that her — yes, her — activities can be very important.
THE OLD SYNAGOGUE, by Richard Rosenblum. Jewish
Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1989. Unpaged. Ages 5 to 8.
This is a neighborhood story that could apply to any
number of American cities — an area changes; Jewish peo-
ple move in and out; and then in again; they need a synagogue;
then they don't; then they need one again. If they're very lucky,
they find an old synagogue that can be renovated, and they
find the old Torahs and Bibles.
WORLD, by Norman Finkelstein; illustrated with photographs.
Macmillan Children's Book Group, New York. 1989. 100 pages.
Ages 10 to 14.
This lively documentation of more than eight centuries of
Western Europe history (especially Spanish), is told from the
Jewish point of view.
Henry Holt & Company Inc., New York. 1989. Ages 11 to adult.
David Adler has put together another wonderful and very
important book. Using first-person accounts of experiences
in the concentration camps, he traces stories of individuals
in this terrible time; using photos from museums and libraries
and private collections, he enables the people and their lost
families to become very real.

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