Chanukah Resources
Nov 30 , 2020/Category

Light the First Candle Thursday, December 10

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Happy Chanukah!!

Featured Events:

THU, DEC 10 at 6:00 PM

Raise Up the Menorah: Singing and Sharing our Chanukah Songs with Cantor Garfein

There’s no better way to start off Chanukah than with Cantor Garfein leading us in some of her favorite Chanukah songs!

FRI, DEC 11 at 6:00 PM

Erev Shabbat Service—Consecration and Chanukah

See familiar faces as we light the Shabbat and Chanukah candles and share the light together.

FRI, DEC 11 at 8:00 PM

Latkes, Laughs, Drinks, and Dreidls: A Chanukah Comedy Night

Need some laughs? Who doesn’t? Our Chanukah gift to you!

SUN, DEC 13 at 4:30 PM

Chanukahpalooza Concert and Candlelighting

Light the chanukiah together and jam with Rabbi Greg Weitzman and Louie Glaser.

MON, DEC 14 at 6:00 PM

The “Miracle” of Chanukah with Rabbi Levine

The poet Walt Whitman has written, “As for me I know of nothing else but miracles.” What does our tradition teach about miracles?

TUE, DEC 15 at 6:00 PM

Genetics and Jewishness: Jewish Identity from Maccabees to Mitochondria

How are genes related to Jewish identity? Can DNA show someone to be Jewish (or not)? How can genetic testing change someone’s life?

Chanukah is the perfect holiday for these insecure times. Whenever we feel that we are not in control over what happens to us, Chanukah comes along to tell us that even when we are under assault, there is something we can do, something we must do.”
Rabbi Levine, The Chronicle December 2006

Still engulfed in a tumultuous year filled with the threat of too much darkness, we can look to the glow of our Chanukah candles to fill us with hope. We can be comforted with the hope that joy is waiting for us and that brighter days are ahead. (Yvette Perry, ed.)


In the Talmud, one of the only early requirements for the celebration of Chanukah was to place the chanukiah in a window or a doorway, so that it could be seen by all who pass by. This is a core message in the rabbinic understanding of Chanukah that remains with us today. During these eight days of festivities, we are asked to claim our identity as Jews—the celebration of Chanukah is intimately linked to the outside world seeing us as Jews. But as we stand by our windows lighting our chanukiot, we

are also given the opportunity to look outside and see those who live amongst us.We may see other chanukiot glowing in the apartment windows or we may see a string of Christmas lights. However, the message is the same—we all hold particular values and identities. But in these dark and cold days of winter, each of us can offer the light of hope to one another. (Rabbi Ben Spratt, The Chronicle December 2008)


I believe strongly in miracles, but not the kind that are brought by God alone. Four thousand years later we live the miracle of Jewish survival. We are here because both God and we take responsibility for Jewish survival, resilience and faith. It’s not just the tiny cruse of oil that continues to burn, it is the resolve of the people of Israel that will not die. So, we are not just recipients of the miracle—we are miracle makers. That is the best security we have for insecure times.”
Rabbi Levine, The Chronicle December 2006

The Chanukah Miracle

When we think of Chanukah, what comes to mind first are the miracles of Chanukah: a small outnumbered band of passionate Maccabee fighters defeating a more powerful army, a drop of oil that lasts for eight days, and the enduring commitment of the Jewish people to survive and, by and by, to flourish. These miracles are reflected in the traditions we carry out over the festival’s eight days. We light candles on the Chanukiah, eat latkes and sufganiyot, spin the dreidl, and give gifts.

The Miracle of the Dreidl

Written on the sides of the dreidl are the letters nun (נ), gimmel (ג), heh (ה), and shin (ש), representing the words nes gadol haya sham (נס גדול היה שם), “A great miracle happened there.” While the dreidl spins, the letters disappear in a blur and are visible only when coming to a stop. The dreidl represents how we—immersed in the dizzying hustle-bustle of daily routine—cannot see the miracles regularly happening all around. Only when we stop to reflect are our eyes opened to the miracles that were there the whole time.”

—Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum

The Miracle of Our Community

In this whole time of COVID, we have been able to count on our congregation to be there for us, educating us, entertaining us, inspiring us. It has surely sustained us. During such a tumultuous time, it has continued to nurture our minds and feed our souls. Still CRS stands, uniting us, holding us tight—radiating goodness, security, connection, and comfort. Bringing light into our lives and our homes through it all. As the days grow darker and we begin to approach winter’s chill, we can find warmth and peace of mind in the blessing of our incredible community. A miracle indeed.


As we increase the lights of Chanukah, adding a candle each night, so too might we, by our actions, bring new light to the world: light to those living in poverty, light for our fragile ecosystems, light for all of our children, and the light of religious liberty.”
Religious Action Center (RAC) of Reform Judaism, 2008

Chanukah Mitzvot Ideas

Doing mitzvot is in CRS’s DNA. Chanukah offers the ideal opportunity for all of us to share our blessings with those who need help. Here are some ways we can help those in need:

  • Every Chanukah, CRS helps make the holidays brighter for families in shelters by donating new clothes, toiletries, toys, household supplies, and other essentials to Women In Need’s Holiday Gift Drive. To learn how to make an in-kind donation to Win, click here.
  • Feed the hungry. Throughout the year, donations to our CRS Food Drive help our neighbors get enough to eat. The money collected is distributed to West Side, local, and citywide organizations. Donate to our congregation’s Food Drive.
  • Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger provides funding to anti-hunger organizations such as food banks and works with local, state, and federal leaders to protect and strengthen food and nutrition programs. To support Mazon, click here.
  • Dorot extends a lifeline of support to homebound and homeless elders. Remote opportunities include making calls, sending cards, and connecting over Zoom to older adults. You could even join a virtual knitting group! There are many options to suit a variety of schedules and interests. To learn how you can volunteer from home, email
  • Met Council is America’s largest Jewish charity dedicated to serving the needy, fighting poverty through comprehensive social services. While social distancing, you can sponsor a Latke Kit. To learn how you can buy supplies or sponsor Latke Kits, email


During a pandemic, well, maybe especially during a pandemic, it is our obligation and our pleasure to share the Chanukah spirit!

Try these new latke recipes!

Make an Edible Dreidl!

8 Chanukah Cocktails to Make for Your Latke Vodka Party!
Here’s to a Menorah Martini, a Spinning Dreidl, or a Sufganiyot (Jelly Donut) Cocktail! L’chaim!

Kid in the Kitchen by Melissa Clark
For tweens ages 8 to 14, this cookbook will make tweens feel comfortable working in the kitchen. Are you ready to make some latkes?

DO FUN STUFF! Have a Chanukah Zoom Party!
You can still do the fun Chanukah things together just as if you were in the same room. Light the Chanukiah together! Have some Chanukah goodies delivered to your friends so you can “share” together! Play the dreidl game, make sure there’s a referee to keep tally! Read an inspiring Chanukah story aloud! Sing songs together! Make latkes together!

Rabbi Jacobs asks: How do you spell Chanukah?

Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson sing Ma’oz Tzur

Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song

Barenaked Ladies sing Chanukah Blessings

Watch an All-Star Chanukah Spectacular Extravaganza presented by The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene!

Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 PM

Don’t miss this once in a pandemic, truly celebratory dazzling event!

Special guest stars include Emanuel Azenberg, Mayim Bialik, Billy Crystal, Tovah Feldshuh, Beanie Feldstein, Joel Grey, Jackie Hoffman, Carol Kane, Barry Manilow, Mandy Patinkin, Itzhak Perlman, Eleanor Reissa, Neil Sedaka, Steven Skybell, Dr. Ruth, Jerry Zaks, and a special audio greeting from Carol Burnett.

But wait, there’s more! There are also special guest appearances by stars from Broadway and the Yiddish stage, too! They include Jennifer Babiak, Joanne Borts, Jonathan Brody, Rebecca Brudner, Mendy Cahan, Efim Chorny & Susan Ghergus, Josh Dolgin, Lisa Fishman, Magda Fishman, Kirk Geritano, Brian Glassman, Abby Goldfarb, Jazmin Gorsline, Samantha Hahn, Dylan Seders Hoffman, Elmore James, Cameron Johnson, Daniel Kahn, Richard Kass, Heather Klein, Miwazow Kogure, Ben Liebert, Zalmen Mlotek, Shura Lipvsky, Frank London, Stephanie Lynne Mason, Freydi Mrocki, Rosie Jo Neddy, Raquel Nobile, Tony Perry, Lexi Rabadi, Daniella Rabbani, Adam B. Shapiro, Kayleen Seidl, Drew Seigla, Polina and Merlin Shepherd, Dinah Slepovitch, D. Zisl Slepovitch, Jodi Snyder, Matt Temkin, Lauren Jeanne Thomas, Bobby Underwood, Mikhl Yashinsky, Tatiana Wechsler, Rachel Zatcoff, and Children From Tzipporei Shalom.

Tickets are free, donations are welcome. For details, go to National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene.

Play Dreidl Games! What says Chanukah best but the traditional game of Dreidl? In order to win, you had better be the last player to have all the gelt! Ready to play?

Dreidl, Dreidl, Dreidl!

Virtual Dreidl

Kid in the Kitchen by Melissa Clark
For tweens ages 8 to 14, this cookbook will make tweens feel comfortable working in the kitchen. Are you ready to make some latkes?

Here are seven new Chanukah books with new heroes, from playful llamas to brave and kind knights on horseback. An eighth book, Honey on the Page, shines light on Yiddish children’s stories in a new translation. Learn about all these new books for kids.

West Side Judaica: Let’s Shop Local!
Support our longtime local Westside Judaica Store on Broadway at 89th Street! Drop in or call at 212.362.7846. For everything you need for Chanukah, tell Shlomo that CRS loves our neighborhood store!

Be the Light: A Chanukah Box About Creating
Eight fun activities for your family includes video how-to guides.

Get some Kishor Winery wines!
How about some fabulous wine direct from Israel? Remember our special event that featured the luscious kosher wines from the Kishor Winery? You can find them at Israeli Wine Direct.

Modern Tribe
Have you fled the city during COVID? Here’s a Jewish gifts and Judaica store online with innovative and contemporary Judaica from over 100 artists and brands. Get your Chanukah Pajamakahs!


Yoga for Light

Feel the good with this Chanukah Warrior Sequence. By bringing light into the world, we are the candle!

Candle-Lighting Readings: One for Each Night

1st Candle: PEACE. “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” (Jimi Hendrix) Let this candle be a spark for peace for me, my family and friends, and everyone in the world.

2nd Candle: ACCEPTANCE. Gaining acceptance of ourselves and of others relieves pain and worry, making room for love. “Most people need acceptance a lot more than they need advice.” (Bob Goff)

3rd Candle: TIKKUN OLAM.There once was a man who stood before God, his heart breaking from the pain and injustice in the world. ‘Dear God,’ he cried out, ‘look at all the suffering and the anguish in your world! Why don’t you send help?’ God replied, ‘I did. I sent you.’” (Rabbi David Wolpe)

4th Candle: THE GOLDEN RULE. Someone asked the wise Rabbi Hillel to stand on one foot and quickly teach him the entire Torah! Rabbi Hillel stood on one foot and said, “That which is hateful to you, don’t do to anyone else. All the rest is commentary.” Some call this the Golden Rule. Whatever you call it, it’s a reminder to treat others as we would want to be treated.

5th Candle: COMPASSION. Being compassionate can change everything. “Tzedakah begins the moment we decide to think about other people besides ourselves.” (Rabbi Robert Levine)

6th Candle: DIVERSITY. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can learn to love, because love comes more naturally to the human heart.” (Nelson Mandela)

7th Candle: FORGIVENESS.The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.” (Author Unknown)

8th Candle: GRATITUDE. It is fitting that the last candle of Chanukah sparks gratitude. “If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” (Rabbi Harold Kushner)


Chanukah brings us light when we need it most, at the darkest time of the year. During this year, that has meant most of the time. We have all learned how really dark living through a pandemic can be. We feel vulnerable, as we deal with things that seem out of our control.

Then Chanukah arrives! An eight-day respite in which we can feel a sense of renewal as we revel in the wondrous light of our chanukiot. We spin a dreidl, sing Ma’oz Tzur, and devour crispy maybe not-too-oily very delicious latkes. As each candle is progressively lit, we take a breath and allow ourselves to gain a little more hope. The darkness ebbs for now. We have made it to this moment to light the lights. We celebrate!

When Chanukah has ended, we return our chanukiot to the mantle, the bookshelf, the piano top, the windowsill. There in its place, it rests where we can always see it, to remind us of what is possible even after the last candle’s flame has gone down.