Chanukah Crafts

When children make a menorah and other holiday-related crafts, the meaning of the Festival of Lights comes alive.

By Barbara Chintz

 Chanukah calls for Jewish families to not only light menorahs (the candelabrum with nine candleholders), but also to display it for all to see.

For hundreds of years, this tradition of "displaying the lights" has sparked Jewish creativity. Why not join in and create your own Chanukah crafts to display?

Making a Menorah
Children love to help light the menorah. Make this even more memorable for them by letting them make a menorah of their own.

If you have young children (under 6) you can make a small menorah out of homemade play dough or modeling clay, let it dry, and then paint it. (Use birthday candles instead of the larger Chanukah candles.) Go to Arts And Crafts Projects for a Rainy Day.

Older children might want to try their hand at fashioning a menorah using paper towel rolls for the candleholders and Styrofoam balls for the lights.

Collect nine cardboard paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls. Cut them so that eight are the same size and one is an inch taller. Paint them and then glue them to a painted cardboard base.

Craft stores usually carry Styrofoam balls that will perch on top of the paper towel rolls. Paint the balls yellow or orange. For each night of Chanukah, the children can add one Styrofoam ball.

Decorating the Menorah Cloth
Another children's craft project is to decorate a cloth to put under the menorah.

Start with a simple, white men's handkerchief. The children can paint a design on it or try their hand at the Hebrew letters, which mark the dreidel (a toy top) that you can find at any Judaica store.

These letters are Nun, Gimel, He, and Shin and translate to: "a great miracle happened there." This is, of course, a reference to the miracle of the temple oil that lasted eight nights. 

Don't forget to have the kids sign and date their work. You will want to keep it.

Other Ideas
Visit craft stores to find a treasure trove of craft projects that celebrate Judaism. These can range from fashioning a stained glass menorah to hang in the window to making chocolate lollipops in the shape of a Jewish star. This is a holiday for creative fun, don't forget to enjoy it.