My friend Dawn Kepler* and I were talking recently about ways to make Chanukah more meaningful. How might we use the framework of eight days and make it a real re-dedication to Jewish values?
We decided we’d set up a list of eight Jewish values and give them each one day of Chanukah. We’d plan appropriate activities for ourselves and/or our households. We brainstormed activities that might be suitable for different households (depending on ages and abilities.) The idea of activities is not simply doing for doing’s sake, but doing for the sake of learning. Be sure to reflect and talk afterwards!
Now we invite you to look ahead at your calendar, see what Jewish value might fit each day. If our activity suggestions are too modest for you, Yasher koach! Go do something that you think would be better.
1. Nidivut – Generosity
a. Go shopping for a needy family.
b. Make breakfast in bed for the family cook.
c. Visit an animal shelter and give them your old towels and sheets for bedding.
d. Give gifts to one another.
e. Shop for a local “Toys for Tots” drive or for the Food Bank.
2. Tzedek – Justice
a. Write a letter to an elected official about some issue of justice.
b. Teach each other about a justice issue dear to us.
a. Volunteer at the Food Bank or similar nonprofit.
b. Give out clean, new tube socks to people on the street asking for help.
c. Visit someone who is shut-in, if possible light the menorah with them.
d. During the week of Chanukah give one dollar to every person you see begging. (Keep a stash of dollars just for them.) Talk about how it felt at the end of the week.
There are many more Jewish values to choose from, many more activities that you might try to express and learn about these and other values. Explore the possibilities, and let me know how it goes!
* Dawn is the Director of Building Jewish Bridges, a wonderful organization that supports interfaith families. If you are in an interfaith relationship, or have an interfaith family, check out their website!