How to teach your kids about the meaning of Chanukah

Meir Panim (photo credit: MATS BACKER)
Meir Panim
(photo credit: MATS BACKER)
Chanukah is the holiday of bringing light into the world, but for many kids it’s the holiday with eight days of gifts. In today’s highly commercialized world how can parents infuse the holiday with a greater meaning?
If your children have never been to Israel, the very idea of a country far away can be hard to understand. We can tell our children that in a place far away, a small number of Jews were able to defeat a huge army. 
Make Israel come alive by looking together at pictures online. The Israeli Tourism website has an excellent gallery of photos, showing many different sides to Israel. Discuss with your kids what Israel was like in the times of the Hashmonim, when they hid in caves and played with the dreidel. Then look at pictures of modern day Tel Aviv to make sure they don’t think Israelis are still living in caves!
While your kids are enjoying their Chanukah gifts, encourage them to feel gratitude by showing how life is for less fortunate children. For older children you could talk about increasing the light in the world and how small acts of goodness ‘light-up’ the world.
Even young children can empathize easily with others kids their age. Help your children to identify with children in poverty and related to their suffering. 
Meir Panim offers many services for under-privileged children in Israel. With hot school meals, after-school programs and summer camps, Meir Panim creates a support network for kids living in poverty across Israel. 
If you are giving your children ‘Chanukah gelt,’ encourage them to give some of that money to the children of Meir Panim. Again showing them photos online can help. A gallery of pictures can be found at Giving child poverty a human face, can help encourage your children to share their good fortune.
To help your kids feel a personal connection to the children their money will be helping, suggest that they write letters or draw pictures to accompany their donations. These can then be scanned and emailed or mailed to the Friends of Meir Panim (address below.)
Click here to make online donations 
This year help your children to see beyond the gifts and experience the true meaning of Chanukah.
For the Chanukah period Meir Panim is running a matching donation campaign where all donations are doubled. Go to HERE