MAKE A DIFFERENCE
How can we get involved and make a difference on Chanukah? How can we make this a fun family event and also an educational one that enriches our family experience and deepens our Jewish identity?
On one hand, Chanukah is not a “Jewish Christmas.” Gift giving on Chanukah developed in many places to assuage jealousy children might feel seeing their Christian friends celebrate a holiday full of gifts. On the other hand, giving children Chanukah “gelt,” money rather than presents, is a Jewish tradition designed to teach them the importance of giving charity and helping those who have less than we do.
The word Chanukah comes from the same root as the Hebrew word for education. The occupying Greek forces were determined to force Hellenism upon the Jewish population and, to a large extent, they were successful. After the victory of the Maccabees it was necessary to reeducate the Jewish population with Torah values. Today we can choose “gelt” or gifts as our way to deepen our connection and that of our families to our Jewish roots.
For Chanukah we can make a difference by gifting our loved ones and children with presents that connect them to Israel, their Jewish identity and the spirit of the holiday. Alternatively, we can also choose an Israel related cause that we identify with and make that our venue for teaching about the power of giving and the importance of connecting to the land the Maccabees fought to free - Zion.