Most students are home now for the extended Thanksgiving Weekend, and this year the first half of Chanukah as well. It’s quieter here to say the least, but now and then, it’s nice to have a family night, as we did tonight on the first night of Chanukah. The weather outside was cold, wet and slippery, so it was nice to stay in, spend quality time together and relax. It was Esther-Miriam’s first time to light the Menorah (she kept covering her eyes, as she knows from the Shabbos candles).

SayitLikeaMaccabeeBluma used her very own “school-made” (as she called it) Menorah made of wood, coins and metal bolts. She also proudly posted a sheet of the 3 Chanukah blessings (3 for the first night, and 2 for each subsequent night) that read: “Say it like a Maccabee!” (don’t mutter the blessings or rattle them off quickly, instead say them with umph, enthusiasm, warmth and dedication). To see the order of the blessings to light the Menorah, visit’s Guide for Kids to Light the Menorah (simplest and most visual).

LightingUpFullerRoadMoshe was excited to get the bulbs lit outside for the big electric Menorah illuminating the darkness of Fuller Road. (yes Rachel M. the duct-tape held up for yet another year). It is amazing how many people see it. Earlier this week a student came by and told us that she would leave the day of classes at UAlbany, drive by on Fuller and know how many candles to light from our big Menorah outside. One year that we didn’t have it out (because all of Chanukah fell out on break) we had random drivers stop by and contact us to tell us how much they missed seeing the bright Menorah out there in the dark night, growing increasingly bright each night.

Post a picture of your Menorah with the hashtag #sharethelights (lights plural) to join a growing global online community of fellow Chanukah celebrators, as well as enter to win some significant prizes. For more info see the website: Your odds might not be so great, but what’s there to lose, and the brightness benefit is great either way. Click on the hastag #sharethelights to see Menorahs all over the world, all sizes and types, it really shows an amazing spectrum of light.

VeggieLatkesRaizy and the girls fried up delicious Veggie-Latkes. In addition to the obligatory potatoes, onions and eggs, they shredded carrots and zucchini, they were delicious. They learned a new trick this year. Put a round raw carrot into the frying pan, and replace it with a fresh raw carrot when it begins to look charred or burned. It helps keep the oil clean! It seems to work…

ChaniDonutsChani made a batch of delicious chocolate doughnuts (not the deep fried kind, but made in a donut-maker, thanks Sheryl H.) drizzled with a sweet white glaze. Another yummy Chanukah touch for the first night.

For bedtime we told stories of my Chanukah escapades and adventures as a teenage Yeshiva student, visiting homes of newly arrived Russian immigrants with Chanukah Menorahs, candles, dreidels and gelt or standing on the street corners of Manhattan, in the hustle and bustle, and deep chill of the holiday shopping season, with the tantalizing smell of (not-so-Kosher) roasted peanuts in the air, asking passersby if they needed a Menorah or candles. For every yes, we had a dozen or more no’s (at least!) but I still remember the heartwarming feeling of a Jew glad to be reminded of his/her heritage, thankful for the Menorah, or the occasional inspiring stories that people would share.

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