Family spending time for Chanukah
(iStock)

The Jewish News asked readers to share their holiday stories — and they delivered.

Sharing the Chanukah Story

My kids are in a public school where there aren’t many Jewish families. From the time my oldest was in kindergarten, teachers have asked us to come in and talk about Chanukah. So, every year, I come to the school with dreidels and gelt to tell the story of Chanukah and the rituals behind it.

The Chanukah before the pandemic, we hosted one of the Shinshinim (a Jewish Agency for Israel program that sends high school grads to live with host families for a year as young ambassadors to various cities through Jewish Federations before doing their military service). Yuval was gracious enough to join me in talking about Chanukkah. 

While Shinshinim are usually here to help in Jewish institutions, it was really special to have Yuval talk about how Chanukah is celebrated in Israel. For many kids, our family is the first Jewish family they’ve met before. We’re a blended Israeli family and having someone our kids look up to like an older brother come to talk to their friends about Chanukah was really special. All of the kids wanted Yuval to play the dreidel game with them.

This was one of the best Chanukkah experiences we’ve had as a family.

Hillary Glaser
Walled Lake

Hillary Glaser
Hillary Glaser
Her Father’s Voice

December 1971 was the last Chanukah shared with my father, as he died in September 1972. Each year, as I light the candles and sing the blessings, I can still hear my father singing the blessings with me, in his Ashkenazic accent, 50 years later.

Penny Goldin Michelin
Rochester

Penny Goldin Michelin
Penny Goldin Michelin
A Charitable Tradition

A few years ago, my eldest brother, Danny Devries, came up with a wonderful tradition for our immediate family! Every year he sends our family an email that reads something like this:

“In lieu of a material gift, we will collectively donate to a charity in each one of our names that the gift recipient would appreciate. For example, everyone but Abba will collectively decide a charity that Abba would appreciate and give a gift in his name. Then, on one night of Chanukah, we will reveal the gift via an email to that person. Don’t ruin the surprise beforehand!

“Each person will have $100 donated in their honor to the charity the rest of the family selects for them. One person will be designated to actually make the donation on behalf of each person and will also send the email receipt to the honoree and explain how we chose that charity.”

I am blessed to have a family filled with mensches! And I highly encourage other families to take on this tradition as well!

Rachel Devries
Birmingham

Rachel Devries
Rachel Devries
A Special Day to Gather
Esther Gold
Esther Gold

My husband’s extended family used to all gather together on Christmas Day to celebrate Chanukah as no one had to work on that day. Presents would be piled high and food would be abundant. 

Once we had children, we took over the holiday with our extended family. We changed it up a little by making homemade latkes to go with the delicious foods that were brought by other family members. And, yes, there were lots of presents. But the best part of all was all being together and celebrating Chanukah. 

Due to COVID, we had to cancel our gathering in 2020. This year, all being vaccinated, we are all looking forward to being together again!

Esther Gold
Farmington Hills

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