By Diana Burmistrovich/JNS.org
The story of Chanukah was about bravery, determination, and finding light in the darkest of times. These days, we certainly remember and celebrate the centuries-old victory of the Maccabees, but with a modern and material spin—plenty of gifts. And oh boy, do we Americans like gifts. But gifts can have a spiritual component as well. This year, consider bringing back the historic themes of the Festival of Lights through your purchases.
It Is the Festival of Lights, after all…
The nine branches of the menorah have signified the Jewish people’s perseverance for more than 2000 years since the Maccabees’ Chanukah triumph. Though the story stays the same, your menorah doesn’t have to. Bringing the holiday back to the future, the brushed metal menorah from Etsy.com offers a contemporary take on tradition. Fashion lovers may not get a new pair of shoes for every night, but they can sure pretend with this Menorah Blahnik reinterpretation on Moderntribe.com. Whether it is something themed or traditional, menorah.com, Squidoo.com and BargainJudaica.com all have wonderful options.
Use old family recipes or new reinterpretations to treat the family every night. Rather than buy gifts, why not whip up a different dessert for every night and package it nicely with some blue and white ribbon? A lot of party stores also offer Star of David confetti and stickers to accent your DIY gift as well. Not only will it be delicious, but your own masterpiece is often more meaningful than anything you could buy.
A Jewish twist
Why buy candy canes when you can buy Chanukah canes from Moderntribe.com to put out on the table? When you aren’t sucking down a Meshuggah mint check out Zazzle.com’s overwhelming amount of ornaments apt to make any Hanukkah bush a little more jovial. Spruce up that Hanukkah bush even more with some themed string lights found at your local Target or online on Judaism.com.
Keep your kinder looking cool at this year’s family dinner with an organic glow-in-the-dark onesie or fancy blue and white bib, both from Moderntribe.com. Is your tyke a toddler? Outfit him in some sweet t-shirts from RedBubble.com. Even local department stores are catching on; Macys, Target, and Walmart all have affordable themed options this holiday season.
For those in a philanthropic mood who want to give something more meaningful this Chanukah, there’s no better time than now to give your kid his or her own personalized tzedakah box. There are plenty of handcrafted options available on Etsy.com and your little car lover will both love and learn from their own train shaped box from Moderntribe.com.
Your tech-savvy teens will surely thank you for the hip, new Chanukah-themed iPad covers from Zazzle.com or iPhone cases from CafePress.com that are fun, festive, and protective.
Kitsch for the kitchen
Strive to make bubbe proud with your own cooking this year, using the help of some of this year’s newest Chanukah-themed cookbook. For those looking for a fresh and healthy alternative to the traditional latke, Barbara Lori offers the “Healthy Hanukkah Cookbook: Savory Jewish Holiday Recipes,” available on Kindle. Amateurs and kids alike are sure to find something that hits the sweet spot in Ronne Randall’s “Hanukkah Sweets and Treats.”
Even a seasoned pro in the kitchen can cook up some Chanukah spirit with an “Oy to the World” apron intricate menorah from Cafepress.com, plates and serving platters from Williams-Sonoma.com, or a 7-piece cookie cutter set from Kitchenworksinc.com including shofar, dreidel, and kiddush cup shapes—for the kids.
There are few gifts more meaningful than the gift of tzedakah –and, anyway, how many scarves and gloves and sundry electronics can a person have? And so, this Chanukah why not consider honoring friends and families with the “gift of tzedakah given in their name?
There are many deserving organizations – and to help you find one that suits you or the person you are honoring, Congregation Mishkan Israel, at 785 Ridge Rd. in Hamden, is hosting a Mitzvah Mall on Sunday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. where you can peruse any number of information tables that will be set up by a variety of local, national and international non-profit agencies. Admission is free and open to all. For more information call (203) 288-3877.