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Chanukah and Jewish Pride

December 2009, Cheshvan 5770   [email protected]   

Written by Nechama Retting, Director of Education for Shlock Rock


Welcome to Shlock Rock Educator’s Newsletter Volume 13. Our goal is to give you some new ideas for teaching about Mitzvot & Middot, Torah, Israel and the Holidays. Visit our website at


Adult Learning: Miracles and Menorahs and Oil, oh my!  The Chanukah story has so many components. The fight for Religious Freedom, the relighting of the Ner Tamid (7 branched Menorah) by the Kohanim (High Priests), the miracles and the rededication of the Holy Temple by the Macabees. An important concept for Jewish Educators and parents to teach about this month could be Jewish Pride, and that it is ok to be different! It says in the Torah that we should be “ohr l’goyim”, a light unto the Nations. We need to point out the many miracles Hashem has blessed us with over the years, and continues to do daily. So let’s inspire our children to Recognize the Miracles!  We also have a big responsibility this month to inspire a love for our heritage and our holidays in spite of the hype all around us. Many of our schools have children from many different backgrounds; this can sometimes be confusing for children. It is ok for our children to talk about and “visit” other people’s holidays, so long as they remember where they “live”! Let’s all do our best to make this holiday rock and help our children to know that being Jewish makes us the Luckiest Ones in the World!  Todah to Tobey Greenberg for some of her ideas that appear in this newsletter! You rock Tobela!!


Recommended SHLOCK ROCK songs:“Crunchy Munchy Latkes”,“Tzedaka Song” and “Chanukah Medley” from the CD Shlock Rock for Kids Party Time!, “Oil in the Jug” from Shlock Rock for Kids Vol. 3 – We’re in the Band, “We are Lighting” from Shlock Rock for Kids Sing Together, “My Menorah” and “Kohain” from Shlock Rock to Unite All Jews, “Be Good, Be Cool, Be Jewish” from Sgt. Shlockers Magical History Tour,  “Blessed is G-d” from the CD Lenny and the Shlockers, “Recognize the Miracles” from Shlock Rock Meets the Prophets, “Luckiest Ones in the World” from Shlock Rock Songs from the Holy Land, “Jewish Pride” from the CD with the same name, or “Jewish Pride Revisited” on the NEW CD  Shlock Rock No Limits! To hear the songs, click here or here then click on the CD, then the song you want to hear. You can download songs to your computer or IPod and burn a CD for only $.99-$1.25 per song just click here!   The new CD  Shlock Rock No Limits! can be downloaded and you can PAY WHAT YOU WANT!!!!!!!!! (At least for a few more days) That’s amazing!!  J


Suggested Activities to try with your students or family:


ACTIVITY: To help our children feel good about them selves and about being Jewish, talk about their Hebrew names. Talk about what their names mean, and find out it they were named for someone special. If you have a child in your class who doesn’t have a Hebrew name (and with the parents permission) choose a name with the family. Have a ceremony with the class and the family to have the child named at the Torah (talk to your Rabbi first!!).  Or you can phonetically write out the child’s name in Hebrew as well. Create Hebrew name banners, or flags that children can hang in their bedrooms. Or send home a poster board and try and have the families decorate them with special things to share about their child. Baby pictures, special interests, favorite color, sport, and stories that may be important to their family, perhaps a picture of the person they were named for, etc… 


ISRAEL CONNECTION/GEOGRAPHY/DRAMATIC PLAY: Take out your floor map of Israel. Using toy people (we use our knights from our castle) and elephants, act out the story of Chanukah on the map. Show the children where Modi’in is where the Macabees lived. Show them the Judean Mountains where they hid. Can you create Paper Mache Mountains and caves? Is it near or far from Jerusalem where the Temple was? The Syrian Army came through Egypt and up through the Negev desert to attack. Create a Temple out of blocks to have on the map. Have the army destroy it (some classes even sprinkle dirt to be cleaned up later using dust pans and small brushes). Can you create a 7 branched Menorah out of clay? There is a book called: Judah Who Always Said NO! By Harriet K. Feder that is fun to read too. Remember to play with only Israeli dreidels on the map of Israel! A great miracle happened HERE, in Israel!


ACTIVITY: Compare and contrast Chanukah in the United States vs. in Israel. What is the same and what is different? Are the dreidels the same? What about the foods? What about in other countries?  There is a nice book called Celebrate Hanukkah! by Deborah Heiligman (National Geographic) that shows the different ways Jews from other countries celebrate Chanukah. 


ACTIVITY: Have a Menorah Museum. Have the children bring in all different kinds of Menorahs/Chanukiot. How do they compare? How are they different? What other items could you compare and explore?  How about Dreidels and sivivon, latkes and livivot, shin and peh, gifts or tzedakah/gelt, etc…


SCIENCE: Chanukah is called the Festival of Light. It takes place in the winter when it naturally gets dark early. Try and do some experiments using light. Can you create shadow puppets to act out the story? Or take dark colored paper and put Chanukah shapes on them and leave them out in the sun for a few hours. Did the sun fade the paper?

This is also a good time to discuss fire safety!

You could also try to press some olives to make oil. Using a mortar and pestle, press the olives, or use a vise and a wooden block (note: lots of oil comes from the pits, so try and press those too!). You can see the oil since it separates from the olive juice (more science!). It takes A LOT of olives to make oil! Soak the pits in water over night and try planting them. Try to create an oil lamp out of bake-able clay. The book Harvest of Lights  by Allison Ofanansky (Kar-Ben) is a nice book to read when doing a lesson on olives or olive oil.



DRAMATIC PLAY: Since the Macabees had to clean up the Temple and rededicate it, have a cleaning day in your school. One way is to make a mess!  Literally turn over chairs, empty the toys out, sprinkle dirt if you want.  Then clean it up! Be sure to end the process with the lighting of the menorah. Or you can give the children spray bottles with water (with maybe a drop of baby shampoo) and sponges and let them clean the toys and family corner. You could also put shaving cream on a table top and practice writing in the shaving cream. Can you write the letters on the dreidel?  What about on an Israeli dreidel? Can you write your name?


PROJECT: Take plastic dreidels and dip the tip into fun colors of paint. Then spin them on paper and watch the cool designs!  Have each child make a few pictures and donate some to a local nursing home or group home.

Create a Chanukah mural using any variety of medium. Do the Mitzvah of Bal Tashchit (not destroying our world) and make a Chanukiah using recycled materials (toilet paper rolls for the candles and a paper towel roll for the Shamash or let the kids use their imaginations!!). Make a dreidel out of an old CD (use a stick from the yard for the handle and hot glue a bead to the bottom to spin upon. Decorate with stickers and permanent markers.) Make a handprint Chanukiah (leave one thumb unpainted).


COOKING:  Make Crunchy, Munchy latkes (recipe) or soufganiot (recipe) with the children. You could also make applesauce (recipe) or edible dreidels using large marshmallows and a Hershey’s kiss for the point, then add a pretzel stick as the handle (more recipes click here). Can you make the edible dreidel spin?


MATH: Do some adding and subtracting experiments. Can you count how many days until Chanukah? When the holiday begins count how many days are left? Adding candles to the Chanukiah, etc…  Put some Chanukah symbols into a “feelie bag”. Can you guess what the item is? Can you guess which item is missing from the bag?  Or put a pair of different sized dreidels into a “feelie bag” and see if you can find the match using just your hands.  Take a bunch of dreidels and a bunch of Chanukah candles and create some math or patterning games. Compare different kinds of candles we use during the year: birthday candles, Chanukah candles, Shabbat candles, Havdalah candles, Yahrzeit candles, etc…




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