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By: Ellen Geller Kamaras

Are you ready for Hanukah?

Let’s take a fresh look and ensure that our children understand that Hanukah is about more than the presents we exchange, the jelly doughnuts and potato latkes we eat, and the Hanukah geltthey receive.

Please close your eyes and take a few moments to reflect about what Hanukah means to you.

Do you have special childhood memories of Hanukah?

My cherished childhood memory is a simple one – playing dreidel with my parents and brother. Instead of earning coins when the dreidel landed on the winning letter, we used an assortment of buttons that Mom stored in a pretty tin box. Proof positive that we don’t have to spend lots of money or plan elaborate parties to experience the joys of Hanukah with our family.

Think about the Hanukah experiences you want to create for your children. Are you willing to try something new this year rather than operating on autopilot and wash, repeat, rinse?

Below is a visualization exercise to get your creative juices flowing.

Picture when you were at your happiest during Hanukah. Was it when you were lighting the menorah or cooking latkes?

* Where were you?At home? At your grandparents’ house?

* Who was around?Family? Friends?

* What were you doing?Playing dreidel? Visiting family? Singing Maoz Tzur?

* How did you feel?Mesmerized by the Hanukah candles? Stuffed from eating latkes and sufganiot?

In what ways did you feel inspired? Did the courage/victories of the Maccabees make you proud of your heritage? Did the defeat of the Greeks and the lighting of the menorah in the Bet Hamikdashfor eight days with one small jar of oil make you believe in miracles?

Are you up for weaving the themes of lights and miracles into the Hanukah celebrations of 5778?We can do this by educating, engaging, and enlightening our children.

Teach your Children about the Big and Small Everyday Miracles

Yes, on Hanukah we celebrate the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, weak over strong, and of one day’s allotment of oil lasting for eight days. These are the huge miracles that are extraordinary – we witnessed the hand of Hashem, hashgaha peratit(divine providence).

The Hebrew word for miracle is nes, something elevated.
A miracle is therefore an elevated or elevating events. Hashem performs miracles every day that go unnoticed. Rabbi Tzvi Ashkenazi
(1660-1718) clarified that what we call “nature” is really miraculous and “unnatural.” We often take these everyday miracles for granted.

Take the time to point out the natural miracles to your children, e.g., snowflakes, the sunrise and sunset, or a newborn baby.

We all know the book “Where’s Waldo?” Are you willing to create a version of this popular game? Take a walk or drive with your children and play, “How many miracles do I see?“ Or “I spy with my little eye, the miracle of ______!

Performing acts of hesed and caring for other people are also small every day miracles.

Teach your Children about Hesed

Is there a better time than Hanukah to teach our children about hesed and bringing light and joy to people less fortunate than they are? Inviteyour children to donate the clothes that no longer fit them as well as the toys and games they no longer play with. Engage yoursons and daughters by asking them for ideas on how they can spread joy and create small miracles for others. Do they want to light candles or sing Hanukah songs at a nursing home or in the pediatric wing of a hospital? How about serving latkes and sufganiotat a soup kitchen or an assisted living residence?

Our Jewish Spark

As Jews, we believe that there is a spark which resides in the soul of each person. The Zohar defines that spark as our soul, our special essence that we receive from Hashem. The Maccabees displayed that wonderful spark – they believed in Hashem and defeated a mighty enemy.

Hanukah is an opportune time to enlighten and encourage our children to discover their unique spark, strengths, passions, and gifts. It’s also a wonderful way to boost your children’s self-esteem and creativity.

Wishing you all a joyful and sparkling Hanukah!

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach. Her coaching specialties include life, career and dating coaching.
Ellen can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).