Teaching Students About Hanukkah
As we approach the holiday season, it is important to remember that not all students celebrate Christmas. Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights, which commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the ancient Jewish temple. With the increasing diversity of our classrooms, it is essential to teach our students about different cultures and customs, and Hanukkah is one of them.
Hanukkah is celebrated by Jews all over the world during the winter season. The eight-day celebration typically falls somewhere between late November and late December, depending on the Hebrew calendar. The holiday is celebrated by lighting the menorah, a candelabra with nine branches. Each night, one additional candle is lit until all eight candles are burning on the eighth night. The ninth branch, usually placed in the center of the menorah, is reserved for the shamash, the helper candle that is used to light the other candles.
In addition to lighting the menorah, tradition dictates that Hanukkah is the time to eat foods fried in oil, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts). Playing dreidel (a spinning top game) is also a popular Hanukkah activity, and gifts are often exchanged during the holiday.
Teaching students about Hanukkah can be a great opportunity to incorporate cultural diversity into the classroom. Here are a few ideas on how to teach students about the holiday:
1. Read Hanukkah-themed books
There are many children’s books that celebrate Hanukkah, such as “The Hanukkah Guest” by Eric A. Kimmel or “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” by Eric A. Kimmel. Reading these stories to your students can help them understand the holiday and the traditions associated with it.
2. Learn about the meaning of the holiday
Teach your students about the story behind Hanukkah and why it is celebrated. Explaining the story of the miracle of the oil can help students understand why the menorah is such an important symbol of the holiday.
3. Make crafts
Crafts can be a fun way to help students learn about Hanukkah. You could have students make their own menorahs out of clay or craft sticks, or have them decorate dreidels.
4. Try traditional Hanukkah foods
Hanukkah is known for its delicious foods, so why not have a class celebration where you try some traditional Hanukkah dishes? Latkes and sufganiyot are both easy to make and are sure to be a hit with your students.