Tuesday, December 10

Chanukah + All-of-a-Kind Family Hannukah

Though both holidays center around lights at a time when the northern hemisphere is at its darkest, Chanukah is not the Jewish Christmas.  In fact, it's a minor holiday that has been amplified due to its relative proximity to Christmas...
Most years, right around the time that Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus, Jews are celebrating a holiday of their own: Hanukkah. By the time the events of the Gospels took place, Jews had been celebrating that holiday for almost two centuries. The holiday began as a national celebration of the victory of Jewish guerillas over the forces of the Syrian-Greeks.  ~Rabbi Daniel Polish
The Festival of Lights, or Chanukah, lasts for eight days and usually occurs in December.  It commemorates the triumph of the Maccabees over the great army of the Syrian king, Antiochus IV.  After the Jews had won their battle, they went to their temple and found that the Syrians had brought in statues of their own gods.  The eternal light had been allowed to go out.  

The Jews rekindled the light, but they only had enough oil to keep it burning for one day, and it would take eight days for a messenger to get more oil.  The miracle of Chanukah is that the oil kept burning for eight days, long enough for the messenger to return.  Jews use a menorah to symbolize this miracle.  It holds nine candles, for the eight days the oil kept burning, plus a shamus to light the others.

Chanukah is celebrated by lighting the candles of the menorah, playing dreidel games, and eating latkes.  Children often receive a gift each night of Chanukah in addition to gelt, which is chocolate wrapped in gold foil to look like money.

For this unit, we are using All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah as our spine read.

Access the complete unit study in the Jewish Holidays in Literature Bundle!

Each of the ten unit studies in this year-long bundle centers around a book for middle school level and includes videos, cooking projects, hands-on activities, writing assignments, and more.  There are also resources for younger children in eight of the ten units (not in *).

  • Introduction to Judaism
  • Solomon and the Trees + Tu B’Shevat unit
  • The Queen of Persia + Purim unit study (sample)
  • Devil’s Arithmetic + Passover unit study
  • The Secret Shofar of Barcelona + Rosh Hashana unit study
  • The Yom Kippur Shortstop + Yom Kippur unit study
  • The Mysterious Guests + Sukkot unit study
  • All-of-a-Kind Family Hannukah + Chanukah unit study
  • Broken Strings + Fiddler on the Roof + Persecution unit study*
  • The Golem & the Jinni + Kabbalah unit*


  1. Wonderful! Thanks for this!

  2. Thank you. I love teaching my children about the world's religions.


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