Hanukkah Festivities

To help our readers celebrate a joyous Hanukkah, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite holiday crafts, recipes and events in Chicagoland.

Our favorite Hanukkah crafts, recipes and events happening in Chicagoland this holiday season.

Recycled Cardboard Tube Menorah

Another great Hanukkah craft idea from the Creative Jewish Mom blog. To help the kids personalize their menorah, give them individual candles to decorate with glitter, sequins, scraps of a paper, yarn etc, and glue on the flame at the end.

Hanukkah Party Bunting

Give your Hanukkah gathering a handmade touch with thismini-dreidel bunting we love from the Creative Jewish Mom blog! She recommends using it on a cake,
and we think the kids would love to use it as a banner for their
toys and dolls.

We asked the folks atAllRecipes.com to share with us the most
popular Hanukkah recipes on their site.Any of these should
make your family get-together special.

Hanukkah Recipes

We asked the folks at AllRecipes.com to share with us the most
popular Hanukkah recipes on their site. They came up with 10 from
their “Christmas: 100 Best Recipes” from their home cooks ebook.
Recipes were selected based on an algorithm Allrecipes configured
that included overall searches/page views/ratings/recipe box saves,

Any of these should make your family get-together special.

Events, celebrations, gatherings and more from our calendar.


Events to help celebrate Hanukkah

The Festival of Lights means candle-lighting, lots of yummy food (latkes FTW!) and eight nights of celebration – and gifts. But it also means that there are lots of cool, educational and festive events happening throughout Chicagoland, whether you’re Jewish or not. So grab your dreidel, bring your appetite and get ready for some fun.

For younger children, it’s fun to make a menorah that usesfaux candles, so the child can “light” it themselves with noworries. This one uses nine popsicle sticks, topped with glitter(or orange marker) to stand in for the candles

Popsicle Menorah

Lit menorah, Israel

Hanukkah: A festival of lights and dark houses

This is what Hanukkah is not:


    1. It is not a celebration of anybody’s birth.


    1. It is not a religious holiday – although it does involveconsecrations and temples.


    1. It does not involve flashy decorations or twinklinglights.



If you don’t live in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, youcan always tell the Jewish houses during December. They’re the onesthat are dark.


And yet, Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights. So whatgives?


OK, let’s go back a second. Here is what Hanukkah IS about:


    1. It is about the celebration of a triumph of a small religiousminority over a conquering army.


    1. It is about a miracle of oil lasting longer than itshould.


    1. It is a minor holiday.



Actually, my Rabbi, Ellen Dreyfus of B’nai Yehuda Beth Shalom inHomewood, calls Hanukkah a “fourth rate holiday.” Especiallycompared with Christmas – which is one of the two most importantholidays in the Christian religion.


We celebrate Hanukkah because…well, because it is the darkesttime of year, and as Rabbi Dreyfus points out, “every culturearound the globe has some kind of festival having to do with lightthis time of year. That’s kind of a human instinct.”


The Hanukkah festival is pinned around a victory of theMaccabees about 165 years before the birth of Jesus Christ (who wasborn, for those who think Christmas is only about shopping, on Dec.25). The Syrian Greek empire, led by Antiochus, had overrun Judea,and Jews were forced to give up their religion (one of the manytimes in history, by the way, when Jews were forced to eitherconvert or practice their religion underground). Some Jews headedfor the hills, quite literally, living in caves and fightingbattles against Antiochus’ forces under the leadership of JudahMaccabeus.


About three years later, they won, and as the victors strodeinto the city temple to take back their religion, they found itdesecrated: the Torah (which is referred to as the Old Testament bynon-Jews) was destroyed; there was a statue of Antiochus (as Zeus);and a pig had been slaughtered and offered up as a sacrifice to thestatue. These are big no-nos. Jews explicitly do not worship gravenimages, and to be Kosher is to not eat pork, which was (and stillis by many) considered unclean.


So they cleaned it up, in ritual fashion, according to religiouslaw. Part of that ritual was the lighting of the candelabra, orMenorah, which was lit with oil. The Maccabees found enough oil tolast one night, but it would take at least a week to get more. Inthe spirit of a people whose unofficial motto is, “What the hell,it’s worth a shot,” they lit the menorah anyway and – here’s themiracle – it lasted for eight days, until the oil stores werereplenished.


Because of this, we light the menorah, or hanukkiah as it’scalled in Hebrew, for eight nights sometime in December, accordingto the Jewish calendar (we are in the year 5772 in case you werewondering). And we give gifts each night. This year, Hannukahstarts on the night of Dec. 20.


And, not surprisingly, oil is a huge part of the symbolism ofthe holiday. We soak potatoes in it and make latkes. We throw doughin it and make doughnuts. We fry…well a lot.


But what we don’t do is put up lights. Or have trees.


I always thought that the tree thing was part of the not havinggraven images in your house. But a tree isn’t exactly engraved.It’s a natural, living thing.


Rabbi Dreyfus points out that it’s also a very important thingto religious Christians. It has to do with Jesus’ resurrection. Formany, the ornaments have specific references to specific passagesin the New Testament.


“When Jews take on those decorations, not only are they dissingtheir own traditions, they’re insulting the religious traditions ofChristians,” says Rabbi Dreyfus, who just ended a term as thepresident of the Central

- Advertisement -


Got 2 Minutes? Take Chicago Parent’s April Reader Survey

Take Chicago Parent’s reader survey to help us provide Chicagoland parents like you with the best content and information. You could win $50!

At-Home Family Activities for Tweens and Teens

Bond as a family without even leaving the house.

Best Middle Schools in Lake County

See how your local middle school stacks up against the best in the Lake County.

- Advertisement -