Chanukah is the Jewish festival of light that commemorates the miraculous victory of the oppressed Jews of ancient Israel over the powerful Syrian-Greeks and their ruthless king Antiochus. Tradition tells us that after the victory, needing to rekindle the damaged candelabra (menorah) in the Holy Temple, the Jews had but a small cruse of oil — only enough to last one day. Miraculously, the small bit of sanctified olive oil lasted eight days.
Whether you consider the true miracle of Chanukah to be miracle of the oil or the miracle of a small group of oppressed people leading a victorious rebellion against impossible odds it up to you, but without a doubt, this (albeit minor) holiday is one of the most universally celebrated of all the Jewish holidays in the United States.
With Chanukah on the horizon (it begins December 21 at sundown), Artscroll Press has just released a wonderful family craft and holiday book that will take you through not only the holiday of Hanukkah, but the entire Jewish year.
Crafting Jewish: Fun Holiday Crafts and Party Ideas for the Whole Family, written by educator and crafting maven Rivky Koenig and illustrated by food photographer Jennifer Levy, includes several edible efforts appropriate for the holiday, including recipes for potato latkes (traditional olive-oil fried potato pancakes) and sufganiot (fried jelly donuts, which are a traditional Chanukah treat in Israel).
But the heart of the book is really the numerous creative crafting ideas --from the very simple to those elaborate enough to engage an expert crafter. These employ a variety of simple techniques, including stamping, painting, gluing, decoupage and antiquing. While many are do-able for young children with adult assistance, the simple instructions make them inviting for people of all ages. Each project includes a materials list (with check offs) and step-by-step instructions even a novice can easily follow.