As we approach Chanukah this year, we have an unusual occurrence: Chanuakh coincides with Thanksgiving. It is interesting to note that the Pilgrims left England for religious freedom [and that] the Maccabees fought in their own land for their religious freedom. We also know that the Pilgrims were very biblically oriented and knowledgeable; when they were preparing to celebrate their first Thanksgiving, they modeled it after what they knew. They knew about the harvest holiday mentioned in the Bible, Sukkot, so this is another connection. The biblical holiday was seven days, the Pilgrims’ three days.
In furthering my response to “Mommy Musings,” Oct. 11, young children are sensory learners. These experiences become part of their being and help not only in establishing their Jewish identity, but also in strengthening their positive Jewish experiences.
So, here are some ideas:
Talk, talk, talk about the holiday. Show children the menorah that will be used. Take the children to a temple/ synagogue gift shop to see the different kinds of menorahs. As you see these menorahs, you and your child can count the number of candle holders.
Read books about the holiday; some can be found in the public library, some in temple/synagogue gift shops. As you read books, discuss them with your child.
Prepare food for Chanukah with your child. As you do, talk about why food is being prepared. Food preparation is a wonderful sensory activity. The sights and smells of the holiday food will create memories that last a lifetime.
Sing songs about Chanukah. If your child is attending a Jewish preschool, he or she will know some songs. If not, make up your own songs; as you sing, clap your hands and move your body.
As the holiday approaches, have your child help to set up for Chanukah. Buy candles and get out the family menorah, festive napkins and tablecloths, for instance.
Each of these activities help to create lifelong memories and feelings in your child, and you will enjoy these special times together. The nightly lighting of the menorah, singing the blessings, singing the songs — all those things and activities that were done prior to the holiday will reinforce the feelings about Chanukah.