Israeli schoolchildren generally have vacation for most of Chanukah, and many parents take time off from work and take their children on outings and to Chanukah parties. The girls at Bayit Lepletot - Girls Town Jerusalem may not have family to be with, but we made it our mission to make Chanukah joyful and full of light.
We started our Chanukah with a candle lighting led by director Rabbi Avraham Stern and a party with much dancing and singing. At one point, most of the girls stood on chairs and belted their hearts out!
We continued our celebrations with a candle-making contest with a twist - all the materials were scraps we had lying around. Although we asked our visitors to judge the contest, the creations were so amazing that there were no clear winners!
On the third night of Chanukah, we went old-school with an evening of dreidels and donuts. The sufganiyot were gobbled down quickly, but the games of dreidel went on for a long time. The next day, we made Chanukah-themed cookies, in menorah, dreidel and star shapes. The girls couldn’t decide if the cookies were more fun to bake or to eat.
In order to give the girls a feeling of home, they received both gifts and Chanukah gelt. Rabbi Stern distributed small gifts of money to each girl in the dining room, and gifts were given thanks to a generous donation. The younger girls got toys and the older girls received things like Mickey Mouse pillows and lotions.
Now that Chanukah is over, we are back to our every day routine. But the light of Chanukah still shines brightly in the eyes of our girls and brightens up even the coldest winter day.