Studying Hanukkah

Using mostly picture books, my kids learned a lot about Hanukkah this week, and they had a wonderful time doing it! They demanded a story first thing each morning and nothing else could be started until it was finished. In this manner, they heard the history behind the holiday, listened to the two miracles, and learned many of the traditions that surround this ancient celebration. We still have a few more books to go.

Then I surprised them with an inexpensive menorah and candles I picked up off ebay last month. My seven-year-old son was dancing around the room like it was Christmas morning. I won’t let them light it until Dec. 11, so the anticipation is mounting. I did, however, let them try out the wooden dreidles I bought for each of them. We played one round of the traditional game using pennies, then we put them away with the menorah.

We have also planned our Hanukkah meal. It features lots of foods fried in oil. We are going to fry up some fish the kids caught this summer with Daddy, try latkes, using a recipe from one of our books, and we’ll finish with jelly doughnuts, another traditional food which they will help to prepare. It won’t be the healthiest meal of the week, but it will sure be memorable.

In all this fun and excitement, my kids have been absorbing lessons and pictures of our Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, the one this holiday really points to. They will be reinforced with traditional prayers and scripture each night as we light our candles and participate in all the festivities we’ve been reading about. Then, as we blow them out on the eighth night and prepare for Christmas, we’ll read the prophecy of the Savior’s birth in Is. 9:2 that, in my mind, links the two holidays together, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”

I can’t be certain, but I have a hunch the three “newest Jewish” members of my family are going to demand this become an annual celebration in our house.

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