This year, my family is planning to celebrate Hanukkah, largely because of our study of the Book of Mormon that teaches us that we are of the House of Israel so in a sense the story of the Jewish people is the story of our people since the people of God are one family. In teaching children about culture, history and religion, Hanukkah is a great hands on way of learning a Bible story and honoring miracles, God, prayer, temples and covenant-keeping people.
Here is our plan:
Night 1: Open the Menorah and Light the first candle, listen to the prayers.
Night 2: Read a story introducing Hanukkah and its origins: The Story of Hanukkah
Night 3: Read a story introducing Hanukkah and its traditions: Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah
Night 4: Gift Dreidels and play the dreidel game
Night 5: Gift small sacks of chocolate gold coins
Night 6: Gift small bags of money
Night 7: Gift Hanukkah cookie cutters
Night 8: Gift books about the next holidays we will celebrate: Winter Solstice and Christmas.
Obviously, each night the appropriate candle will be lit and the prayers will be played.
For our daily storytimes, I found a couple of books of Jewish folklore at the library and will read a short story a day.
Hanukkah starts on Dec 8th this year. In Sammy Spider's book, there are recipes for latkes and jelly filled rolls so we will experiment with those recipes, and of course bake cookies with the cookie cutters.
Last year, on the fourth night of Hanukkah, I had the privilege and blessing to attend a birth of a baby to a Jewish father. The mother was in labor at the traditional time to light the candle, but it was not too late after the baby was born and the midwives (myself included) were packing up to go. We all gathered together; while the father knelt with his new baby in his arms and said the prayers and lit the candles. It was beautiful and I felt the profound sweetness of the moment.