Hanukkah lasts for eight days. While parents often give children presents, one on each night, this Jewish holiday is about more than gift exchange. With some thoughtful planning, it can become a yearly touchstone for family unity. Here are some ideas for using the "festival of lights" to create family warmth on each night of Hanukkah.
DAY ONE: Remembering the history
The lighting of the first menorah candle officially starts the holiday. This is an excellent opportunity to teach children Hanukkah prayers, in either English or Hebrew, depending upon their age. You can also share special songs, and devour traditional fare, such as potato latkes, as the family storyteller reenacts the dramatic history behind the holiday.
DAY TWO: Art night
Homemade dreidels are simple to make. The basic pattern, and rules of this traditional game can be easily found in many books on Hanukkah. But don't stop there. Glitter, felt, paint and yarn can make each dreidel a work of art. When the game is over, and little ones are tucked into bed, string the beautiful keepsakes across the front door.
DAY THREE: Movie night
Rent the video "Fiddler on the Roof." The classic musical can serve as a history lesson, while providing plenty of hilarity for everyone. Add custom-made sundaes to the mix, and this night is sure to be a hit. When the film is over, the oldest member of the household can share a tale of what it was like to grow up Jewish in his or her generation.
DAY FOUR: Cooking night
All the classic foods of Hanukkah can be prepared and served in a festive meal. This is the one time of year when too many cooks in the kitchen are a good thing! If possible, share delicacies, as well as the spirit of the holiday, with close friends.