Image from Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky
This is a special Chanukkah season, for both Chanukah and Christmas are overlapping! Our school, like many Jewish communities around the country, contains a majority of interfaith families. I want to wish everyone a Happy Chanukkah and for those who celebrate Christmas, a Merry Christmas too. Please scroll down for some (interfaith) family friendly links with games, recipes, basic history and more.
But first a Chanukkah story from Valley Forge for us all. (for the record, this has been a folktale floating around long before this book was published). Here's my version:
You know it was a hard winter in Valley Forge, right? The fighting was terrible. it was bitter cold Could the ragtag revolutionary army continue? Could they make it through the winter? General Washington was not sure. He decided to go undercover, incognito and try to assess the morale of his army. It was worse than he thought. There were not enough winter coats to go around, clothes were becoming worn, boots were developing holes. The tired despair was felt as he silently went from fire to fire.
But then, General Washington spied a small group of men gathered around a log. Curiously, they were singing softly. He noticed they were lighting a few sticks that were on top of a big log. He pulled his hood close and went over and asked what they were doing. It turns out, this small group of men were Jews. They had gathered around to celebrate Chanukah, the holiday of lights. They were remembering a time, nearly 2000 years previously, when the Syrian-Greeks began to make laws that prevented Jews from being Jews. "They were terrible like the British are today", they explained.
Than a great hero, Judah Maccabee rose up, "he's kind of like General Washington", they said proudly. "He inspired the Jews to rise up, to fight back, that even though we were outnumbered, we could achieve great things if we worked together! And we did."
"Another great miracle happened too. When we reclaimed our temple, one day of sacred oil burned to last 8 days until we could make some more. Normally we would light candles, but because we are here, we are lighting these sticks to remember that this is the season of hope and miracles."
The hooded stranger, choking back tears, said "Thank you good men for your hope-filled cheer. If they could do it, I think we can too! Blessings and good tidings for us all." And then he disappeared back into the night. Later that week, the Revolutionary Army staged a successful surprise attack that changed everything.
Happy Chanukah! Here's to the renewing light and hope of family, community, love and friendship during these days of darkness. David
A great 20 page document filled with ideas and background.
Fun coloring pages and Menorah crafts for the very little ones. Scroll all the way down for a fun animated, 3 minute sesame street Chanukkah.
A kid friendly version of the Chanukah story
Another URJ page of Chanukah activities.
Lastly, fun video's including Veronica Monica's Chanukah reporting!