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Dec 5 2013

How a Public Menorah Lighting Taught Me a Valuable Parenting Lesson

By at 3:55 pm

giant menorah lighting

We stood shivering in a hotel parking lot waiting for the lighting of a giant outdoor menorah. It was my first public menorah lighting and I was in full “mom mode,” pulling up hoods, chasing dropped dreidels, handing out gelt, and sort of pretending to be excited–but we were really there for the children.

Since we live on a farm outside of Jewish community, they need to see that Hanukkah doesn’t just happen at our house and at their grandparents’ house.

There were a few brief speakers and I was feeling pretty distracted, thinking of the Thai restaurant right across the street, wishing my children would stop swinging their light sticks at each other, and feeling cold. The rabbi was talking about our inner olive oil which burns longer than we expect, about our essential Jewishness, but my mind wandered. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 25 2013

Three DIY Menorahs You Can Make for Under $15

By at 6:58 pm

papa

You can buy a Hanukiyah (we even have some recommendations), but if you’re crafty or have kids who love to get their hands dirty with paint, glue, glitter, and markers, try making these incredibly cheap hanukiyot at home. It’s a great way to get ready for the holiday, and ensure that everyone in your family has their own personalized Hanukiyah.

What does your hanukiyah need? According to Jewish law you need space for eight candles or oil cups, and they need to be even (i.e. none should be taller or shorter than the others). You can buy lots of hanukiyot with uneven candle slots, and that’s cool, but I tried to make mine even. You also probably want a spot for a ninth candle, the shamash, which is generally used to light the other candles, (to my surprise, a shamash is not mandatory according to Jewish law). The shamash should either be higher or lower or otherwise set apart from the other candles.

My DIY hanukiyot require a quick trip to the hardware store, and a little dig in the recycling bin. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 14 2013

Our Eight Favorite Menorahs for Hanukkah 2013

By at 5:03 pm

Hanukkah is upon us. Instead of breaking out your old menorah, why not browse for a new one in our menorah picks guide for 2013! We have a bunch of options from ModernTribe that are “Kveller-approved” and easy on the eyes.

1. VW Bus Wheeling Groovy Menorah ($65.00) Toot toot, beep beep! This 60s inspired menorah is a great gift for your Flower Power friends and family–or for the inner hippie in you!

buggie

2. Temple Menorah ($140) This simple and sleek menorah has a unique design and a modern, woodsy feel. It will look good in any window and last for Hanukkahs to come. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 10 2012

Is There a Right Way to Decorate for Hanukkah?

By at 9:59 am

“But why CAN’T we put up blue and white lights?” pleaded Lilly.

It was not the first time that one of our children has asked this question. Nor, as evidenced by the following advice from the 1959 Guide for the Jewish Homemaker, was this the first time a Jewish child had desired to emulate her neighbors:  Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 7 2012

How We Celebrate Both Hanukkah & Christmas

By at 1:16 pm

Each December, I tingle in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season. I savor it all…the songs, the sentiment, the TV specials, the homey smells of cinnamon, apple cider, and cookies, and the spirit of tzedakah.

I’m Jewish, born and raised in New York, married to a South African man who is the son of an Evangelist minister.

In our family, we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 19 2012

Our Favorite Menorahs for Hanukkah 2012

By at 5:01 pm

When it comes to Hanukkah, menorahs are kind of a big deal. You’ll have to look at it for eight days straight, so you better find one you really like. Here are our favorites from ModernTribe.

glass menorah modern tribeThis Glass Menorah ($24.00) is both elegant and a bargain. It provides a simple base so you can get creative with colorful candles. Even better, its clear design prevents a clashing with any of your holiday decor. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 28 2011

Farewell to Hanukkah

By at 4:23 pm

Hanukkah has come and gone, and we hope all of our readers had eight great nights. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our Kveller Family Photo Album to see some great Hanukkah snapshots (and send in your own to info@kveller.com). And as our final send-off to the Festival of Lights, here’s the manicure we’ve all been waiting for: Amy Keyishian’s final night.

menorah manicure

That’s a wrap!

Dec 20 2011

Hanukkah Starts Tonight!

By at 3:30 pm

Though it seems like we’ve been talking about it for eight years, the first night of Hanukkah is finally here. Before you stuff your face with latkes (or cupcakes or cookies or cheese) and unwrap some presents (if that’s what you’re into), you may want to light the menorah. And since it’s been at least year a since you’ve done that, here’s a refresher course on just how it’s done. Who better to learn from than our favorite animated fellow, Todd, and his magical friend, um, God.

How to light the Hanukkah candles:

We’re also happy to provide you with this cheat sheet of blessings for lighting the candles. Remember, all three blessings are said on the first night, and then only the first and second blessings are said on the seven nights to follow.

The First Blessing

Praised are You,
Our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who made us holy through Your commandments
and commanded us
to kindle the Hannukah lights.

hanukkah blessing 1
The Second Blessing

Praised are You,
Our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors
in those ancient days
at this season.

hanukkah blessing 2
The Third Blessing
(First Night Only)

Praised are You, Our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has given us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.

hanukkah blessing 3

Wishing you a very happy Hanukkah!

Dec 13 2011

Hanukkah: Good for the Jews, Good for the Gentiles

By at 11:40 am

Growing up, entertaining was always such a fun part of the winter holidays. My mother invited family and friends over on Christmas Eve to eat shrimp cocktail, lasagna, and cookies while playing board games. (In case you haven’t read my previous posts, I converted to Judaism a while back.) As my brothers and I grew older it was almost more fun than Christmas morning. Being Jewish hasn’t lessened my desire to host friends in our home and having a family of my own has fueled a strong desire to establish new holiday traditions.

But learning about Judaism (and how, what and why we celebrate things) can be a process. For example, I’m four years in and I’d rather pluck out my armpit hair one by one than deal with the stress of hosting my own Passover seder.  The High Holidays don’t exactly elicit  “let’s get drunk and eat fun-shaped cookies while playing Jenga” kind of feelings. And while a Purim costume party does sound like fun, I think Hanukkah is the easiest time to celebrate with non-Jewish friends and family.

(Disclaimer:  I’m assuming since you’re reading this blog that you probably pee when you laugh and have sticky fingerprints on your refrigerator door, so the following advice is aimed at a kid-friendly party. Feel free to jazz it up if you have the luxury of a babysitter and an alcohol tolerance.)

1. What’s blue and white with light all over? Set the mood for a fun night (afternoon) of Hanukkah celebration. Play The Maccabeats “Candlelight” on repeat or check out Kveller’s top 10 list for some inspiration. Find a blue plastic tablecloth (reuse it next year) and some white napkins. Blue cake plates optional (if you’re super fancy you might be able to find Hanukkah plates but really, blue will do.) If your kiddos are old enough to craft you could make these adorable tissue paper lanterns. Lastly, pull out your menorah and a few dreidels. (Note: vacuuming the carpet and wiping the fingerprints off the fridge are optional but you might want to move the clean laundry waiting to be folded from the couch into your bedroom and close the door.) Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 5 2011

Hanukkah Contest: Parents Get Lit(erature)

By at 12:50 pm

hanukkah menorah with lit candlesKveller wants to know: where’s the craziest place you ever lit it?

We’re talking about your menorah, of course. With Hanukkah rolling around, we want to know if you’ve ever wound up lighting the candles in an unusual place. So far among our staff, “cruise ship bathroom” is in the lead, but we’re dying to hear any weird Hanukkah stories that you all have.

If you’ve got one, share it in the comments section below. We’ll choose a winner, who will be sent an assortment of 8 books about Hanukkah from Kar-Ben, including new titles Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles and Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap. If you do the math, that’s one book for each night of Hanukkah.

Leave your menorah-lighting comment by next Tuesday, December 13th and we’ll announce a winner shortly thereafter.

Free books!

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