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HANUKKAH STORIES, BOOKS, MUSIC, TOYS, GAMES and MORE
Stories, Folktales, Folklore, Fairy Tales, Legends,
Myths, History, Nursery Rhymes, Fantasy & Facts


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HANUKKAH STORIES, BOOKS, MUSIC, TOYS and MORE
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Scroll down or click on your choice below

Books about Hannukah — Children
Music and Spoken Word for Hanukkah— All Ages
Toys and Games for Hanukkah — Children
Online Links to Stories/Info about Hanukkah
SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info about Hanukkah
Advice, Comments & References from Storytellers, Teachers & Librarians



BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE FREE ONLINE BARE BONES BOOK:
IN THE SPIRIT OF THE WINTER HOLIDAYS

It has Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stories, as well as other winter tales.
http://www.story-lovers.com/bareboneswinterstories.html



BOOKS FOR CHILDREN - HANUKKAH


Book links are underlined in blue. Click on them for more information.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from copyright holder if material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.

Blue's Clues Chanukah, A (Blue's Clues (8x8)) by Jessica Lissy, Dan Kanemoto (illus) and Jennifer Oxley (illus).
(2003 - Baby-Preschool)
Blue and her friends have been invited to a Chanukah party at Orange Kitten's house! From lighting the menorah and eating special foods to playing dreidel and singing songs, you can join in the celebration too!

Chrismukkah: Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate the Hybrid Holiday by Ron Gompertz. (2006)
Christmas meets Hanukkah for millions of mixed-faith families—who deck their trees with Stars of David and spin the dreidel under mistletoe. Here is a one-of-a-kind, amusingly illustrated and endlessly entertaining guide to the joys—and oys—of celebrating Chrismukkah, the hybrid holiday.

D Is for Dreidel by Tanya Lee Stone and Dawn Apperley (illus). (2002 - Baby-Preschool)
Children will love learning about Hanukkah in this dreidel-shaped alphabet book! Every page contains a letter of the alphabet along with sweet, rhyming text and words that correspond with that letter. And as an added bonus, at the end of the book is the complete story of Hanukkah! This is a fantastic introduction to the holiday!

Festival of Lights: The Story of Hanukkah by Maida Silverman. (1999 - Ages 4-8)
Long ago in Jerusalem, the greedy king Antiochus IV ordered his soldiers to steal treasures from the Holy Temple. When the Jews tried to defend their temple, the furious king punished them harshly, and the Jews were forced to observe their faith in secret. But a brave man named Judah led his people, the Maccabees, against the king's armies. Victorious, the Jews restored the Holy Temple. They dedicated it once again to God in a joyous celebration -- the very first Hanukkah.

Hanukkah Moon (Hanukkah) by Deborah Da Costa and Gosia Mosz (illus). (2007 - Ages 4-8)
Have you ever heard of a Hanukkah Moon? You probably have heard of Hanukkah, but are you aware that there is a moon by the same name? Well, of course, the moon is just a plain moon. But what makes it special is that it comes at the same time as Hanukkah.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman (illus). (1994 - Ages 4-8)
What are the poor villagers to do? The holiday-hating, hill-dwelling hobgoblins are bound and determined to ruin yet another Hanukkah for them. Every year the beasties snuff out the menorah candles, destroy the dreidels, and pitch the potato latkes on the floor. But these wicked wet blankets never counted on someone as clever as Hershel of Ostropol showing up.

How to Spell Chanukah and Other Holiday Dilemmas by Emily Franklin. (2007)
"What a holiday! No pestilence, no slavery, no locusts, no cattle disease or atonement. No synagogue, no guilt, no mortar, and no real lesson to be absorbed and passed down to my Jewish offspring. Thank God," writes Joshua Braff, one of eighteen Jewish writers who extol, excoriate, and expand our understanding of this most merry of Jewish holidays. There are as many ways to celebrate Chanukah as there are ways to spell it.


Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story by Naomi Howland. (2004 - Ages 4-8)
Sadie and her four little brothers are very poor and always hungry. On the first night of Chanukah, Sadie performs a generous act, and in turn receives a frying pan that cooks up sizzling hot, golden latkes on command. Sadie tells her brothers never to use the magic pan, but when she goes out one afternoon, the mischievous boys can't resist.

Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming (The): A Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket with Lisa
Brown (illus). (2007 - Ages 4-8)
Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukkah, and Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. A particularly irate latke is the star, but many other holiday icons appear and even speak: flashing colored lights, cane-shaped candy, a pine tree. Santa Claus is briefly discussed as well.


Light the Candles: A Hanukkah Lift-the-Flap Book (Picture Puffins) by Joan Holub and Lynne Avril Cravath (illus). (2000 - Ages 4-8)
Hanukkah is here! There are so many fun things to do—light candles in the menorah, open presents, eat latkes and chocolate coins, play the dreidel game, and more. With the turn of each page, another candle is added to the menorah and another fun element of Hanukkah is depicted. Children can lift the flaps and see all the special ways there are to celebrate this joyful holiday.

Light the Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah And Christmas by Margaret Moorman. (1999 - Ages 4-8)
Every December, Emma and her family celebrate two special holidays. First comes Hanukkah, with dreidel games and lighting the menorah. Then comes Christmas, with carols, bright lights on the tree, and presents for everyone!

My First Hanukkah Board Book (My First Board Books) by DK Publishing. (2005 - Baby-Preschool)
This chunky little board book provides an explanation of Hanukkah appropriate for preschoolers. From the origin of the holiday to musical notation for a favorite Hanukkah song to a description of some of the yummy foods eaten during the festivities, this book packs a whole lot in a small package.

Runaway Dreidel! by Leslea Newman and Kyrsten Brooker (illus). (2007 - Ages 4-8)
On the first night of Chanukah a lucky boy receives a shiny new dreidel, but once it starts spinning it just wont stop! With a mind of its own, the dreidel spins quickly across the floor, out the door, and on down the street, with its excited owner and family in hot pursuit. Soon the whole city joins the chase to catch the runaway toy.

Runaway Latkes (The) by Leslie Kimmelman and Paul Yalowitz (illus). (2000 - Ages 4-8)
As Rebecca Bloom prepares for a Hanukkah party at the synagogue, three latkes jump right out of her frying pan. They head straight for the door, singing, "Big and round, crisp and brown, off we roll to see the town! And YOU can't catch us!" And so begins the chase.

Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah (Sammy Spider's First Books) by Sylvia A. Rouss, Katherine Janus Kahn (illus). (1993 - Ages 4-8)
Sammy watches longingly as Josh Shapiro lights another candle and receives a brightly-colored dreidel each night of Hanukkah. "Spiders don't spin dreidels, spiders spin webs!" Sammy's mother reminds him. Then on the last night, Sammy gets his own spinning surprise. Full color.

Trees of the Dancing Goats, The (Aladdin Picture Books) by Patricia Polacco. (2000 - Ages 4-8)
Polacco includes her warm, colorful illustrations in what at first seems the simple story of a Jewish girl, Trisha, and her Christian neighbors, whose bout with scarlet fever at Christmas threatens to ruin Trisha's Hanukkah. Trisha and her family respond with a loving gesture that is rewarded in kind.

Where Is Baby's Dreidel?: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz. (2007 - Baby-Preschool)
It's Hanukkah, and Baby wants to spin the dreidel -- but where is it? Lift the flaps to find sparkly foil Hanukkah gifts, and join Baby in this fun-filled hide-and-seek adventure. A wonderful Hanukkah treat for babies!

Zigazak! A Magical Hanukkah Night by Eric Kimmel and Jon Goodell (illus). (2001 - Ages 4-8)
The authors have put these dancing dreidels and high-flying latkes to good use in a lighthearted story that teaches Hanukkah traditions--from kazatzkas to gelt--along with a wise, timeless moral.

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MUSIC AND SPOKEN WORD FOR EVERYONE - HANUKKAH


Titles are underlined in blue. Click on them for more information.
Alphabetized with short descriptions for your convenience.


Celebrate Hanukkah by various artists. (2000)
This top selling album is a treasure of Hanukkah songs from some of our community's most beloved musical artists. Celebrate Hanukkah is an opportunity to create your own memories and miracles during this holiday season of light.

Child's Hanukkah, A by Music for Little People. (1998 )
Holiday albums can be tedious, sappy affairs--drenched in good intentions but sappy nonetheless. Not so, this release from the consistent Music for Little People label. It may be short on old standards, but that's only because there's a lack of English-language Hanukkah standards to begin with.

Erran Baron Cohen Presents: Songs In The Key Of Hanukkah (2008)
Created and produced by composer and multi-instrumentalist Erran Baron Cohen, brother of Ali G and Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen. Baron Cohen scored the original music for his brother s film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, as well as his hit TV series, Da Ali G Show. The premiere musical celebration of one of the world s most beloved holidays for years to come.

Hanukkah Rocks (2005) by The LeeVees
Picking up where Adam Sandler left off, Adam Gardner, Dave Schneider (The LeeVees) and friends turn in an entire batch of Hanukah novelty tunes that are simultaneously hummable, at times funny and clever and played with a kind of informed garage rock spirit and oddball sensibility that will appeal to fans of They Might Be Giants and NRBQ.

Hanukkah Swings! by Kenny Ellis. (2005)
Ellis makes the traditional songs unique by using the swing-era sound, and manages to toss in a few of his own without missing a beat.

Lights & Laughter: Joel ben Izzy Spins Hanukkah Tales — Travelling Storyteller! Pull up a seat by the candles and listen to tales that will bring the joy of Hanukkah to all—whether you're young or old, Jewish or not.

Lights: Celebrate Hanukkah: Live in Concert by various artists. (2008)
A once-in-a lifetime gathering of some of the best in Jewish music to celebrate Hanukkah, in spirit, in joy, and in song. From familiar and beloved faces to exciting new friends.

Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanukkah by the Klezmatics. (2006)
This second interpretation of Woody Guthrie's Jewish-themed lyrics by the Klezmatics--America's premiere Yiddish band--revolves around Hanukkah, and by the title, it's not surprising that most of the offerings boast a lively tone. Guthrie, the Dust Bowl balladeer, lived in post-war Brooklyn (Coney Island, to be exact), and, inspired by his mother-in-law, the Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt, wrote a newly found series of poems that focused on Jewish culture.

Holiday Times: Songs, Stories, Rhymes & Chants for Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year & St. Patrick's Day by Ella Jenkins. (1996)
An all-new recording featuring 26 songs, poems, and stories related to winter holidays. Jenkins and friends sing and play ukulele, harmonica, guitar, pipe organ, flute, and percussion. "For terrific family sing-alongs."


Hanukkah & Chinese New Year by Kimbo. (2002)
Get out the Dreidel and fry the latkes! Put on your dragon masks and celebrate with a dance! Two special holidays are featured in songs and activities on this CD for Hanukkah and Chinese New Year.


No image
available
Challah and Latkes: Stories for Shabbat and Hanukkah by Cindy Rivka Marshall. (2008)
Children and adults will enjoy this recording of enchanting folktales, all containing the nourishing ingredients for food for the soul: captivating voices, infectious songs, and strong characters, all laced with a wonderful sense of humor and awe. This audio CD includes three stories to celebrate Hanukkah, and four stories about Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

Hanukkah..and all that jazz! by Jon Simon. (1992)
Contemporary solo piano interpretations of Hanukkah favorites.

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TOYS and GAMES FOR CHILDREN - HANUKKAH



Chanukah Jigsaw Puzzle by Melissa and Doug.
This 30 piece wooden religious jigsaw puzzle is beautiful and promotes faith-learning fun! Cheerful artwork, instructive text and resource information depicts this traditional Jewish holiday and feast! Ages 3+ Dimensions: 13.5" H x 13.5" W

Chanukah Necklace Kit.
Colorful wooden bead necklace kit features five dreidle shaped beads on a string of round beads. An elastic thread with a necklace clasp is included in the kit.

Chanukah Set by Kidkraft
11 x 6 x 11 With this special KidKraft Chanukah holiday play set celebrate the miracle and traditions of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. All of the pieces are made from solid wood and hand painted. A damp wash cloth can be used for easy cleaning. Colorful wooden pieces. Non-toxic, hand painted finishes.

Fisher Price Little People Hanukkah Set
Little ones can create or re-enact Hanukkah memories with the Little People Hanukkah Play Set. This set includes characters, accessories and recognizable icons that your toddler will enjoy building stories around.

Happy Hanukkah Menorah Puzzle by Gund Inc.
Celebrate the season with this 10 piece puzzle. Classic wooden peg puzzle-each candle lifts out. Great colors. Ages 3 and up.

Happy Hanukkah Vinyl Window Decoration by Party America.
Decorate your windows during the season with Happy Hanukkah vinyl window decorations! Each window dcor has fun, colorful images of the season. Includes one sheet measuring 18" x 12".

My Soft Chanukah Set by OyToys.
This 11 piece colorful plush Chanukah set will provide hours of fun for children during Chanukah. Includes menorah, candles, and gelt in a bag. All items are contained in a clear vinyl case with handle for easy carrying and storage. Ages 18 mo. and up.

6 Strings of Dreidels Hanging Decoration by Party America.
Hanukkah 6 Strings of Dreidels Hanging Decoration is a great piece for a Hanukkah party! Package includes 6 - 7ft strings with foil colored dreidels and can decorate up to 42 feet!

3D Mini Foil Dreidel Hanging Decorations by Party America.
Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin! Hanukkah 3D Mini Foil Dreidel Hanging Decoration is a great piece for a Hanukkah party! Includes 8 dreidel pieces - 4" x 3".

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ONLINE LINKS - HANUKKAH

Online links are underlined in blue.
Click on them and you will go directly to the online sources.
Some links offer information only; others have full-text stories.

• Hanukkah (Chanukah) stories:
http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/chanstr.htm
http://www.zuzu.org/chan.html
http://kids.nypl.org/reading/recommended2.cfm?ListID=51

http://www.holidays.net/chanukah/
http://www.imagitek.com/chanukah.html

• Here is a website for The Horse Who Wouldn't Eat Latkes. I have told this to a mixed group of adults and young children - about 3 up to 12. The adults get the humorous ending first. Then I think they go home and explain it to the younger kids. Your age audience should get the story on their own. It's fun to tell too.
http://www.story-lovers.com/bareboneswinterstories.html


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SOS - SEARCHING OUT STORIES - HANUKKAH
INPUT FROM STORYTELLERS, TEACHERS AND LIBRARIANS

 

1) One of my favourite Hanukkah stories is The Soul of a Menorah by Eric A. Kimmel --in the December 1997 issue of Cricket Magazine. It's about a man who finds a hayfork and thinks it's a menorah-- and sets out to prove himself right. Their toll-free subscription number: 1-800-827-0227)

An e-mail was sent to Eric Kimmel and he was asked how he felt about storytellers using his story, The Soul of a Menorah, and here's his answer:"As a former storyteller myself who 'borrowed' plenty of material, I have no objection to other storytellers telling my stories. Go ahead! All I ask is that they acknowledge me as the author, as well as mention the illustrator and the publisher of the tale in question. In the case of The Soul of a Menorah, that story is part of a newly published collection of Chelm stories for Hanukkah called The Jar of Fools: Eight Hanukkah Stories from Chelm. Mordicai Gerstein is the illustrator. The publisher is Holiday House. The only problem comes in the area of recording stories and then offering the recordings for sale. This is a whole other area of rights and permissions. In cases like this, the storyteller should contact the publisher to request permission, which may or may not be granted. Always inquire first."
Enjoy the stories.
Eric Kimmel


2) I did an online search to find Eric Kimmel to ask if it was okay to share his story. It turns out, Mr. Kimmel is a storyteller himself! Read about him here:
http://www.ericakimmel.com/


3) Hanukkah Stories: The power of light : eight stories for Hanukkah by Isaac Bashvis Singer. These are stories that have the holiday in them, not the biblical story, and a couple of them are wonderful, particularly Menach and Rachel. Some of the stories are quite mystical.


4) This is my favourite! It's one by Doug Lipman published in the National Storytelling Magazine November, 1995, pp. 24-26.
The Shammes Candle by Doug Lipman.

IN THE HANUKKAH DRAWER, the little Hanukkah candle waited. The candle had been waiting impatiently since Hanukkah began. But on the seventh night of Hanukkah, the family had received a present that had dashed the candle’s hopes: a Hanukkah that didn’t use candles. This Hanukkah Menorah had eight small oil lamps, all on a brass stand. By the eighth night, the Hanukkah candle knew its time to shine would never come. Just then, the Hanukkah drawer opened. The candle felt its hopes rising again, in spite of the new Hanukkah. But the children who had opened the Hanukkah drawer were not looking for a candle.
They said:
On Hanukkah, we like to play;
A spinning dreidel we want to play.
[A dreidel is a toy similar to a top.]
As the children excitedly grabbed one another, the Hanukkah candle thought,
“It’s no use being a candle. I should be a dreidel.”
Then the candle made a wish in a very special way:
Oh, Hanukkah light,
Oh, Hanukkah light,
Please turn me into a dreidel tonight.
The youngest child in the family was the last one to look in the drawer.
The others said, “Don’t bother, they’re all gone.”
But the Hanukkah candle had changed.
The youngest cried out, “Hey, there’s a dreidel for me, after all!”
All the children took their dreidels onto the floor and began to spin them.
“Let’s play the game,” one said.
Another shouted, “Mine’s come up ‘gimmel’, and I’m gonna win!”
One by one, the children started to win shiny Hanukkah coins. They said:
On Hanukkah, before it’s end,
We want some coins that we can spend.
All at once, they stood up, leaving their dreidels strewn on the floor.
They said, “Let’s go out and spend our Hanukkah coins now!”
The youngest child’s Hanukkah dreidel said, “Oh, no! I made the wrong wish!”
So it made another special wish:
Oh, Hanukkah light,
Oh, Hanukkah light,
Please turn me into a coin tonight.2.
The youngest child in the family said, “Look here, on the floor! There’s a coin for me , after all.”
The children put the coins in their pockets and ran to the front hall to put on their coats.
“Let’s go out and spend our Hanukkah coins, right now!”
Sniff! Something smelled delicious. Someone was cooking something in oil!
The children shouted:
On Hanukkah, we like to eat,
Potato latkes are out treat.
The childen stuffed their coins into ther pockets and ran into the kitchen.
They spotted a big plate, piled high with potato pancakes.
The Hanukkah coin in the youngest child’s pocket thought, “Oh no! I made the wrong wish again!” The coin said:
Oh, Hanukkah light,
Oh, Hanukkah light,
Please turn me into a latke tonight!
On the top of the latke plate, there was a new, crispy potato pancake.
The children reached out to grab the latkes.
The mother said, “Wait! You can’t eat yet. First we have to light the Hanukkah lamps. Come over here!”
Reluctantly, the children left the pancakes on the plate and followed their mother to a table by the dining room window.
When the children were sitting dow in front of the Hanukkah, the mother smiled at told them the legend once again:
“Two thousand years ago, a king named Antiochus told the Jews they couldn’t do things that Jews had always done. Antiochus seized the Holy Temple, put an idol in it, and put out the eternal light.
“The Jews stood up for themselves. Led by Judas Maccabee, they won back the Temple. But when they went to light the eternal light, they couldn’t find any of the special oil for it. It would take eight days to make new oil.
“Just when they were about to give up hope, they found a little oil --- maybe enough to burn for one day. When they lit it, it burned for all eight days. It was a miracle!
We light these Hanukkah lamps now to show the world that we remember the miracle --- the miracle that let us be who we are.”
The mother said the Hanukkah blessing, lit a match, and tried to light the first of the small oil lamps on their new Hanukkah Menorah.
“Oh, it’s hard to get the match down inside the lamp to the wick. Now the match has burned out,” she said.
She lit another match. She nearly dropped it. “Ow! It burned my finger.” Putting the matches down, she said, “I need a candle to light this with. I need a servant candle - a shammes candle.”
The mother opened the Hanukkah drawer. Looking puzzled, she said, “That’s strange. I thought I saved one candle just for this.” The potato pancake on the top of the pile - the one that had been a Hanukkah coin, which had been a Hanukkah dreidel, which had been a Hanukkah candle - said,
“Oh, no! All my wishes were the wrong wish.” It made one last wish:
Oh, Hanukkah light,
Oh, Hanukkah light,
Please turn me back to myself tonight!
The youngest in tha family said, “I’ve found a candle! What’s it doing on top of the potato pancakes?”
That night the little Hanukkah candle was lit. It spread its light to eight Hanukkah lamps, and they in turn, shone into the winter darkness.
The Shammes candle takes its light,
And starts its spreading through the night.
If we can be just who we are,
The light we spread will travel far.
The light we spread will travel far.NOTES:
About “The Shammes Candle”
Years ago, while teaching a workshop on “Making Up Stories for the Holidays,”
I (Doug Lipman) instructed the participants to choose a holiday, then describe what that holiday meant to them personally. Later they borrowed the plot of an appropriate formula tale and retold it using symbols from their chosen holiday. One of the attendees, Rabbi Don Rossoff, had said, “I want to make a story for Hanukkah. I see Hanukkah as a celebration of being Jewish in a non-Jewish world.” Months later I remembered his words and decided to create my own story based on the Rabbi’s conceptualization. The formula tale’s plot I used belonged to “The Stonecutter”. Because the kindling light is a central image of Hanukkah, I chose a Hanukkah candle as my central character. When I tell this story to preschoolers or family audiences, I have them chant the lines that begin, “Oh Hanukkah light ...,” adding simple movements that alternate between slapping the knees and clapping hands. I sing the other verses, encouraging listeners to join on repeated lines. (I sing the first line of each couplet three times, using my “One Little Candle” melody - see bibliography.) I precede the story with this verse sung to the same melody:
Oh Hanukkah light, the darkest night,
That is the time we spread the light.

Bibliography:
One Little Candle: Participation Stories and Songs for Hanukkah by Doug Lipman (Enchanters Press, PO Box 441195, W.Somerville, Mass.02144). Audiocassette: original songs and stories with songs.

Other Hanukkah Resources to Explore:
Collections of Hanukkah Stories
The Hanukkah Anthology by Philip Goodman (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1976). Contains a documentary history of Hanukkah, as well as recipes, activities, songs and dances.
Eight Tales for Eight Nights: Stories for Chanukah by Peninnah Schram and Steven M. Rosman (Jason Aronson, 1990).
Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer (Harper and Row, 1964). Although this collection is not labelled as Hanukkah tales, almost every story relates to Hanukkah.

Hanukkah Stories in Jewish Holiday Collections
Time for My Soul: A Treasury of Jewish Stories for Our Holy Days by Annette Labovitz and Eugene Labovitz (Jason Aronson, 1987). Contains thoughts for Hanukkah and five stories.
A Treasury of Chasidic Tales on the Festivals, Volume 1, by S.Y. Zevin (Mesorah Publications, 1981). Contains 10 brief stories, written from an observant viewpoint.
Light of Chanukah in Chasidic Thought by Moshe Brown (Z. Berman, 1979). Written from an observant, Hasidic viewpoint.
Chanukah: Its History, Observances, and Significance (The ArtScroll Mesorah Series) (The Artscroll Mesorah Ser.) by Hersh Golwurm, Meir Zlotowitz, and Nosson Scherman (Mesorah Publications, 1981). Written from an observant viewpoint.

Books with sections on the meaning, history and observance of Hanukkah
The Jewish Festivals: History and Observance by Hayyim Schauss (Schocken Books,
1938). Contains four brief chapters about Hanukkah, from its origins to its observance in early centuries, in the Middle Ages, and in recent centuries in Eastern Europe.
The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary by Michael Strassfield (Harper and Row, 1985). Embraces several viewpoints, from observant to “Jewish renewal”.

Additional Notes:

“So he took out his dreidle and looked at it and the letters nun, gimel, hai, shin (Nes gadol hayah sham, "A great miracle happened there"). G-d had performed a miracle and helped the Hasmoneans against the Greeks. G-d will surely also help him, Moishele, to come out of his present trouble.” from A Great Miracle Happened Here - Jewish Children International - Tzivos Hashem

"There was a time, about a hundred and fifty years before Christ was born, when the Middle East was ruled by Asyrians. The Asyrians were aligned with the Greeks, who were pagans - they worshipped idols. The Jewish people were the only people in the world at that time who believed in one God. They were forbidden to teach the Bible, and were forced to bow down to carved idols that were placed inside the holy temple. A brave Jewish family called the Maccabees rose up and united the Jewish people against the Asyrians. The Maccabees were out-numbered, out-weaponed, and out-classed in war. The Jewish people should have been annihilated, but we won because of our courage, and the miracles God made when He saw our courage. Chanukah is really a celebration of religious freedom. ... "See that one little menorah? Without it, there would be no Christmas House. People would be worshipping the Sun God, the Rain God, or Zeus, Aphrodite, and Mercury." from One Little Menorah by Zalman Velvel

The four letters which appear on the four corners of a dreidel alude to the miracle of Hanukkah. Taken one after the other they spell out (from right to left): Nes (miracle), Gadol (great), Haya (happened), Sham (there = Israel) Fairly innocent so far, you'll agree. Now comes the more racy part, the point where the Maccabees' rededicated Temple and Caesar's Palace spin together, turning the historic commemoration into an opportunity to generate some cash.! Decide on an entry amount. Each player spins.
Website:
http://www.jcn18.com/dridel.asp?netscape=ns
More websites
Playing the Dreidel Game:
http://www.holidays.net/chanukah/dreidel.html
The children play dreidel, a game of luck. The dreidel has four sides, each bearing a Hebrew letter - nun, gimel, hey, and shin - the initials of “Ness Gadol Haya Sham” meaning “a great miracle took place there”. In fact, the origin of this game of luck goes back to ancient India. The Hebrew letters engraved on the four sides of the dreidel later came to stand for the conditions of the game in German-Yiddish (a dialect spoken by the majority of Jews in Europe and Russia):
Dreidel Pattern:
http://www.holidays.net/chanukah/pattern.html


5)
I want to tell the story of Chanukah (the miracle of the victory over Antiochus and the burning of the oil in the temple for 8 days), but from the perspective of a child who would have experienced it. Does anyone know of such a telling of this story? If not, I'll try to write one, but I'd rather use one already written.
Judith W. 11/6/05

Response:

Go to my web site
http://home.earthlink.net/~byls-press/index.htm
and look at My Own Hanukkah Story.
Daniel S. 11/6/05


6) Hasidic Stories
From the website of storyteller Doug Lipman, a fantastic selection of stories.
http://www.hasidicstories.com/stories1.html
Karen C. 12/5/05


7) Just catching up, but Cherie Karo Schwartz has a story based on a Midrash about a little boy named Benjamin who finds the oil that lasts 8 days. It's in her book My Lucky Dreidel: Hanukkah Stories, Songs, Poems, Crafts, Recipes, and Fun for Kids a wonderful book.
Muriel H. 1/5/06


8) For teachers, students and parents we have EDUCATIONAL free learning games, holiday history, menus, crafts and printable activities for Hanukkah. Hanukkah History, Games, Free Printable Activities and Lesson Plans.
http://hanukkah-fun.com/

Also, free holiday lesson plans and games:
http://partysupplieshut.com/education.htm
Holiday History, Games, Free Printable Activities
Christy 11/2/07


9) I came across a delightful Hanukkah story and have now told it at a library and at church (as part of a service on magic and miracles). And I've decided to write the author, Eric Kimmel, to ask for permission to add it to my repertory. We post sermons on our Web site, and the speaker, who generously referenced the story in his text, wanted to post the story, too. I explained that it was a copyrighted story (Eric Kimmel's fakelore, not my usual folktales), but that I thought it would be okay to post a citation and summary. You can opine on that if you like, but meantime, since I had to write out a summary for him, I thought I'd also share it with you. We've discussed Hanukkah stories before, and I know I'm not alone in having trouble finding a good Hanukkah story for a heathen to tell!

So I sent him this:
Note: The Story for All Ages for this day was taken from The Jar of Fools: Eight Hanukkah Stories from Chelm by Eric A. Kimmel (Holiday House, 2000.) The collection contains eight stories set in Chelm, a Polish town which, in Jewish folklore, is populated by noodleheads. "The wise men of Chelm," as they are popularly known, are always logical in their thinking--but usually wrong.

Summary:
A farmer driving his cart through Chelm hits a bump, and his hayfork tumbles off onto the street behind him. Two wise men find find it and think it is a menorah for it has eight branches the same height, and one longer branch--for the shamus candle, of course! God must have thrown it to them from heaven! They polish it up and put it in the Grand Synagogue of Chelm, where that very evening, the sixth night if Hanukkah, it is stuck with candles and lit for the prayer service. When the farmer who lost the hayfork recognizes it, a debate ensues which the Rabbi of Chelm determines can only be decided by the great Rabbi Jacob Isaac, the Seer of Lublin.

The whole town walks over to nearby Lublin where Rabbi Isaac hears both arguments and judges the object to be a menorah. It may formerly have been a hayfork, he says, but once an object has been used for sacred purposes, it retains "sparks of holiness," and can no longer return to everyday use; that would be a sin! However, since the farmer is out a hayfork, the Seer requires Chelm to compensate him by paying 18 zlotys.

"18 zlotys!" they exclaim. "For a hayfork???"

"What do you mean?" says the farmer. "Can't you tell a menorah when you see one?"

Kimmel concludes: "That is how the famous menorah came to the Grand Synagogue of Chelm. Don't be fooled. True, it may resemble a hay fork, but it has the soul of a menorah."
Mary Grace K. 12/2/07


Created 2005; last update 11/16/10

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