Chanukah & Gift Giving

Dear families,

In this month’s update, I will provide a few points about Chanukah and gift giving. Before getting to that, I want to let everyone know that registration packets have been mailed home. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for all current students and siblings to register for next year we will not open registration to the community for at least two weeks. We do this to ensure that all current families always have first option to return to school. Please let me know if I can answer any questions about registration or school next year.

Chanukah — the eight-day festival of light — celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. The following website does a good job of describing the facets of the holiday https://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/102911/jewish/What-Is-Hanukkah.htm.

Gift giving – Each year, at least one family asks advice about gift giving on the holidays. I believe that the holidays should not focus on material gifts. Gifts like baking with your children, going to the park, having a game night, offering to help at Finlay Park’s food service on Sundays (or favorite charity), and other such ideas are very valuable. Family traditions are powerful and starting them when children are young can create lifelong emotional memories.

One general suggestion in choosing toys is to be wary of toys that promote violence and toys that portray body image in an incorrect manner. Often the first group of toys is aimed at boys and taken from movies created for older children. The second groups of toys narrowly focus on girls’ appearance or clothing styles. These toys teach girls to act older at younger ages and that how they look determines their value. The more open ended and creative a toy the better it is for young children. We should be critical in our toy choices making sure that we do not feed into gender stereotypes or any other negative messages.

Chanukah traditions (which can be used for other holidays) can include:

  • Encouraging children to ask questions about the holiday. Create a list of questions together and the family can Google the answers. I suggest saving the questions to ask again in a future year to see what new ideas are shared and new questions can be added to the list. Asking questions and researching answers is a great way for families to develop meaningful holiday memories.
  • Building off the previous example, you can ask each member of your family to reflect on questions such as: “What do you love about lighting the menorah? “What part of the story resonates with you?” or, “What else do you enjoy about Chanukah?”
  • Consider adding to the traditions of your holiday celebration. For Chanukah, you might decide to have a tzedakah (charity) box near the candles and have each family member give charity prior to lighting.
  • Perhaps children will want to sing a particular Chanukah song found on You Tube or adapt a Chanukah custom from another country. Choosing a new mitzvah (Jewish directive) is always a great idea.

I wish every family a meaningful holiday season.

Best,

Rabbi Meir

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