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With the start of Hanukkah just around the corner, we’re taking a look at this special occasion in the Jewish calendar. Happy Hanukkah to everyone who is celebrating!

Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, is celebrated over 8 days and usually takes place in November or December. This year, the celebration begins on Thursday 7th December.

All around the world, Jewish families light the menorah. Each evening an extra ‘branch’ of the candle is lit using the shamash (the ‘helper’ candle in the centre). Oil has a special significance to Hanukkah so will often be used to light the candles. During the festivities, families and children will play games with a dreidel and will eat special foods such as latkes.

We found these BBC Bitesize website links a useful starter to talk about Hanukkah with your class.

What is Hanukkah? – BBC Bitesize

Teaching about Hanukkah in the classroom – BBC Teach

Books about Hanukkah

Hanukkah Bear by Eric Kimmel – A sweet story about a hungry bear who is awoken by the delicious smell of latkes cooking in the village. Venturing out, the bear eats all of Bubba Brayna’s cooking, leaving none for her friends!

This book also contains a recipe for latkes.

Age range: EYFS

Little Red Ruthie by Gloria Koster – a twist on a classic tale, the book follows Ruthie who must convince the wolf that eating her grandmother’s scrumptious latkes will be better than eating her!

Age range: EYFS/KS1

Little Glow by Katie Sahota – we’ve shared this one before, but it so beautiful that we couldn’t help including it again! The book looks at all the different ways religions and cultures use light in their celebrations; from Hanukkah to Christmas, Diwali to Lunar New Year. It is a wonderful way to highlight our similarities and our brilliant differences.

Age range: EYFS/KS1

All About Hanukkah: Things to Make and Do by Shoshana Boyd Gelfand – a great non-fiction option for older children, with plenty of activities and facts about Hanukkah.

Age Range: KS2

The Golden Dreidel by Ellen Kushner– got a class with a taste for adventure? Then this is the book for you! It combines the magic and wonder of the festival of lights with an epic adventure involving demons and a princess.

Age range: KS2

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