Hanukkah is right around the corner! It begins at nightfall on Saturday, December 8, and continues for eight days, with the final lighting of the menorah on Saturday, December 15.
Hanukkah is a favorite holiday for many kids and adults, and why not? What’s not to like about eating fried foods and getting presents? Here are a few ideas for ways to celebrate The Festival of Lights!:
- Read Get Cooking! A Jewish American Family Cookbook & Rockin’ Mama Doni Celebration which is filled with recipes like Jelly Donut Miracle Muffincakes (photo above) as well as lots of ideas for holiday activities that are good for kids of all ages.
- Bake Latkes. Cooking website If You Can Make That You Can Make This has an amazing recipe for potato rosti, which are essentially the same thing as latkes only they are baked not fried. This version is baked in muffin tins, so they’re perfect for making latkes for a crowd without having to stand over the stove.
- Make Lisa Davies’ Sweet Potato Latkes with Pear Sauce.
- Make a unique menorah, like this sweet one made from cupcakes or this one out of votive candles that Holly created last year.
- Create edible dreidels with Fig Newtons, pretzel sticks and icing, or with marshmallows and wooden skewers.
- Listen to some hip, Hanukkah music with the family.
- The Concert Vault has created a music playlist of the best Jewish performers in the Vault. Check it out here.
- Have a kid with allergies? Get peanut/nut free gelt at Little Daisy Bake Shop in Montclair.
- Order Hanukkah in a Box ($29.75) from JewishHolidaysinaBox.com. The box will arrive filled with games, music, decorations and more.
- Read a Hanukkah book with your kids. These are my kids’ three favorite stories.
Locally, there are many Hanukkah celebrations:
- Monday, December 10: The Maplewood Jewish Center (113 Parker Avenue, Maplewood) is holding a Hanukkah party with dinner, donuts and special entertainment. RSVP and more information at MaplewoodJewishCenter.org, 6:00pm, $12 per person with a $54 max per family.
- Tuesday, December 11: The Maplewood Menorah lighting is at 6:30pm in Ricalton Square (Maplewood Avenue and Highland Place, Maplewood).
- Wednesday, December 12: Congregation Shomrei Emunah (67 Park Street, Montclair) is holding a Chanukah Party for All Ages with live music, Hanukkah songs, games, latkes, Sufganiyot, hot dogs and more. Bring your own menorah to light and a gently used children’s book to help rebuild a K-8 Moonachie public school library flooded by Hurricane Sandy. Begins at 5:30pm, more information here.
- Thursday, December 13: Le Parc Place (377 Lorraine Avenue, Montclair) is having a Hanukkah Party from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. $5 per child includes pizza, and $10 per adult, includes a light bite. Reservations required, 973-744-6073.
- Friday, December 14: Join Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield for A Hamishe Hanukkah Night! Dinner, song session, communal candle lighting, and tefillah. Please bring a potluck dairy or pareve dinner and/ or your favorite latkes to share as well as your hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) with 8 Hanukkah candles. For more information, email here or visit www.nertamid.org
Also on Friday, December 14: Temple Sholom of West Essex will have a Chanukah Family Service at 6:30. Families are encouraged to bring their menorah from home, and we will all light our menorahs together at the service. Geared towards grades 2-6 but younger children are welcome too! Contact the temple office for reservations or more information by calling 973-239-132 or email here.
- Sunday, December 16: The Jewish Family Concierge is hosting a party at the Geyer Family YMCA (159 Glenridge Avenue, Montclair) from 4:00 to 5:30pm. Celebrate Hanukkah with fun gym activities — an obstacle course, ball pit, roller coaster, climbing tunnels and more — plus a story time, menorah lighting and snacks. For more information contact Emmy Atlas here or 973-929-2968.
- Also on Sunday, December 16, the Jewish Cultural School & Society (JCSS)–a “secular synagogue” serving Essex, Union, Passaic and Bergen counties–will celebrate the Festival of Lights with songs, stories, crafts and a pot-luck lunch at The Baird in South Orange. Families and friends of any faith (or none) are welcome! Contact Merle Wise, membership chair through email or 973-233-0714.
- Another Sunday, December 16 even will have your family building a menorah in LEGO! Temple Sholom of West Essex will host The Jewish History Construction Series using LEGO building blocks to build a ‘bigger than life’ model of a Menorah. Under the direction of Stephen W. Schwartz, the participants are guided through a 2 hour learning and building process of this huge project intended for all ages, including grandparents. $36 per family. Contact the temple office for reservations or more information by calling 973-239-132 or email here.
For Hanukkah celebrations in Manhattan, check out:
- Sunday, December 9: The Jewish Museum is hosting its annual Hanukkah Family Day with the chance to construct a sculptural menorah (a museum tradition), dancing with music by Yosi and the Superdads, and a tour of the Museum’s world-famous Hanukkah lamp collection. From 12:00 to 4:00pm, ages 3+; free with museum admission.
- Monday, December 10: Chanukah On Ice – at Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park, come join the skating fun from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, with complimentary Kosher food, songs from the Maccabeats, and the lighting of a giant ice menorah. RSVP here or email email@example.com for more information. Admission is $22 for adults, $18 for children 3-13 and free for those under 3.
And if you just want to stay home? Don’t worry – there’s a Hanukkah app for that, too. This year, The Jewish Museum launched “Light My Fire” which makes it possible for the user to light a virtual menorah with just the swipe of a finger.
Happy Hanukkah! What are your favorite Hanukkah traditions?