How the Mexican Dreidel Began to Spin

Ever wonder what starts a tale spinning? The Mexican Dreidel story is, so to speak, a spin-off from a course on the History of Latin American Jewry. That course was taught by Amherst College Professor Ilan Stavans, a Mexican Jew.  I
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A Wild, WILD Hanukkah

A Wild, WILD Hanukkah is a tribute to the Hanukkah celebrations of my childhood, full of laughter, love, and joy.  Growing up, we lived on a block that had only one other Jewish family, so most of the surrounding houses were full of
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A Compassionate Spin on a Hanukkah Tale: The Story Behind Writing Tizzy the Dizzy Dreidel

When we sat down to write our first Hanukkah picture book, we began with a question: How would you feel if you were a dreidel who always got passed over during the holiday fun?  Tizzy —a hopeful but balance-impaired dreidel—anticipates
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Top 5 Kar-Ben Recipes for Hanukkah!

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Sea urchins: An Unlikely Menorah

What have you’ve used to make a Hanukkah menorah?

In Temple times, crafted from gold, the menorah had seven branches- instead of the nine used today - branching out from the Shamash to host eight shimmering lights. Our menorahs today traditionally sit in a window, lit at night, for those passing to see the celebration in progress. 
A menorah can be made out of a variety of different materials. Some are crafted from metal or clay. Some are made with plastic and use lightbulbs as flames. Some are made as school art projects. And some are made from the most unlikely materials. 
December comes during the summer in Antarctica. This means that it’s part of six months of constant sunlight. For those who celebrate Hanukkah, recreating the warm celebratory glow of the menorah becomes a concern...
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SAVOR THE MOMENT: Light the Menorah: A Hanukkah Handbook

Families lead busy lives, often running from one activity to another. It is not easy to fit in sports, play dates, music lessons, dinner, and homework in the few hours between school and bedtime. By December, young families may feel exhausted. Is it possible to pause for Hanukkah? Could eight days of candle-lighting become an opportunity to slow down, reflect, discuss, and share?

Unlike Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, Hanukkah is not observed in the synagogue through long religious services. Unlike Passover, it does not require extensive preparation. We don’t dress up in costume the way we do on Purim or build an outdoor structure the way we do on Sukkot. 

By contrast, Hanukkah is simple: Candles, gifts, potato pancakes, and jelly doughnuts. What’s more, it is customary not to work while the candles in the menorah are burning. The average Hanukkah candle lasts less than an hour. This is the perfect amount of time to spin the dreidel or play a board game together as a family. The Hanukkah lights can help us be mindful of the ones we love and to appreciate each moment in their presence.
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Celebrating Family Time

In 1995, when my boys were 11 and 14, I purchased a lovely book called Eight Nights, Eight Lights: Family Values for Each Night of Hanukkah, compiled by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky. It contained short inspirational passages to be read aloud as part of the candle-lighting ceremony. Some sections were written by modern rabbis. Others came from older Jewish texts. But each one provided a meaningful moment of reflection which added to our Hanukkah celebration, making this family time together more than just a gift-giving event.

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Author Inspiration with Renee Londner

As an author, one of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “Where do you get your ideas from?”

The answer is easy, “Everywhere.”

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Interview: A Hanukkah with Mazel Author Joel Stein

Get to know Joel Stein, author of A Hanukkah with Mazel. Learn what inspired his sweet Hanukkah story about a stray cat and friendship.
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The True Story of Nonna

Karen Fisman is the author of Nonna's Hanukkah Surprise. Below, she shares the story of the Nonna who inspired her interfaith Hanukkah story.
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