By Lori Rubin, Director Family Engagement

My work at Jewish Learning Venture has a great deal to do with helping families take one step further on their Jewish journey, just as I have been doing with my own family for many years.

Our jkidphilly staff recently offered a webinar for parents entitled, “Making Hanukkah Meaningful for Young Children.” During the presentation, each staff member brought something to share with our participants. It made me think about my own family and how we have tried to make the Festival of Lights meaningful in our home. When my kids were little, I bought every Hanukkah related book at the store (there was no PJ Library back then) and made it a point to read them at bedtime each night. We listened to Jewish music in the car. There was no Jewish Rock Radio or Hanukkah station on satellite radio then; I needed to buy the latest Hanukkah CDs. I took them to anything Hanukkah related in public spaces: malls, bookstores, town squares. We have great memories of building menorahs out of K’nex, dipping candles in wax, making sand art, and collecting dreidles and gelt of every size.

Now that my kids are teenagers, I have tried to find new ways to make the holiday meaningful to them. For the past few years, we have “adopted” a family in need. This year, through the Mitzvah Circle Foundation, we learned about a local family with two children aged 15 and 11. As many people want to buy clothing and toys for babies and toddlers, the foundation was having trouble finding a family to help them; we decided this family was a good fit for us. We have spent time since Thanksgiving thinking about what this boy and girl really needed as well as what they might want. Yesterday, we delivered the items to the warehouse so that this family would be able to have a happy holiday. We made sure to include some gift cards to help the parents enjoy a restful, enjoyable time as well.

This past week, jkidphilly families donated over 50 gently used books at jkidphilly Little Hands Make a Big Difference programs to brighten up the days of children who are living in a local homeless shelter. Next week, we will host Mitzvah Morning on December 25th, where kids will make flower arrangements to bring joy to local seniors.

On this Hanukkah, I invite you to help jkidphilly continue to provide Little Hands Make A Big Difference programs and bring light to our community. Give back to the jkidphilly community and help us continue this important work.