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Everything Is Illuminated: Chanukah 2014/5775

Everything Is Illuminated: Chanukah 2014/5775

From bread and hot sauce to eco-friendly crafts and an eight-sided menorah, gifts with a purpose (and a sense of fun) for the Festival of Lights.

Sandee is the arts and culture editor at the Jewish Week.

’Great miracles happen everywhere” spins on the message of the dreidel. In Israel, visit Draydel House, a gallery showcasing 800 handmade varieties of dreidels in the newly redeveloped Sarona neighborhood of Tel Aviv, or online (where there’s a smaller selection). All are the work of Eran Grebler, a second-generation ceramicist who has been making draydels and other Judaica for more than 30 years. His dreidels, which may be in the shapes of helicopters or elephants, and may be for occasions other than Chanukah, are produced using unconventional techniques. Visitors to the gallery are encouraged to spin. Sarona, in the heart of Tel Aviv, features historical buildings dating back to the German Templar settlement in 1871.

Elephant Draydel, 230 shekels ($60), Star of David, 140 shekels ($35). 11 David Elazar St., Tel Aviv,

Learn to make delicious bread in one of Manhattan’s most fragrant contemporary bakeries. Bread’s Bakery off of Union Square can feel like Tel Aviv — with its bright interior, signature babkas, challahs, rustic breads and pastries (all “kosher friendly”) and lots of Hebrew-speaking clientele. Chef Uri Scheft also founded Tel Aviv’s Lehamim Bakery, in 2001. You can sign up for a bread-making class, or get a gift certificate for a friend, or gather a group and organize your own class. The next classes are scheduled for Jan. 21 and Feb. 11, 5 to 8:30 pm.

$125 per class. 18 E. 16th St., Manhattan, 212-633-BAKE (2253),

Brighten the festival of lights with a shiny, beaded fair-trade menorah. George Mahso is a master beadsmith in South Africa, who began making wire cars as a 13-year-old to help support his family. His cheerful garden menorah, with its birds, bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, brings thoughts of spring.


Experience again the beauty, soulfulness and deep meaning of Debbie Friedman’s music, with the first book based on the beloved late singer-songwriter’s music. “Lullaby” features the lyrics of her bestselling song, illustrated with fine illustrations — of angels, stuffed toys, butterflies, the moon and sleepy children recalling their days — by Lorraine Bubar. The song’s bedtime message of comfort, celebrating life, urges children to be grateful, hopeful and at peace. “It seems the light has gone to sleep as you will, now darkness has a turn to be, and you’ll be safe through the night.” Included is a brief appreciation of the life and career of “the Joan Baez of Jewish song,” along with a CD of the original music and lyrics by Friedman.

$18.99, at bookstores. Jewish Lights Publishing,

Karla Gudeon of Smithtown, L.I., has been making hand-colored engravings since 1988, when she left teaching to buy a printing press. A selection of her work, inspired by folk art and illuminated manuscripts, on handmade paper, is on view at her booth in Grand Central’s Holiday Marketplace. Her six-inch-square series combines text and imagery, including a regal peacock with plumage in deep shades of blue, with the words “Kol Hakavod,” meaning All the respect or Well done.

$75. Grand Central Holiday Fair (though Dec. 24),

Shop mindfully at Magpie, an Upper West Side jewel box of a shop specializing in gifts and accessories that are locally-made, eco-friendly, organic, handcrafted by fair trade cooperatives and made of recycled materials. The magpie bird is one that brings shiny things back to its nest — and is a symbol of good luck in Chinese. Spread warmth this winter with Shupaca alpaca blankets ($88) that are warmer than wool, scarves ($41) and socks ($20) made by artisans in Ecuador, or reflect the light with handmade bracelets from Marquet in Thailand with strands of semi-precious beads ($14, $30, $54). You can store your gelt guiltlessly in a vegan wallet ($45) made by Matt & Nat.

488 Amsterdam Ave. (83rd and 84th streets), Manhattan,, (646) 998-3002.

Say what you will about the ancient Greeks, but they knew how to accessorize. Modeled after a bracelet in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection dating back to ancient Greece, ca. 350 – 300 BCE — about 150 years before the Maccabee era — this elegant bracelet features a luminous garnet in gold-ornamented overlay.

$150 /$135 museum members. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (and its stores), (800) 662-3397

Remember Regina Resnik, the Bronx-born legendary opera singer who went on to direct and produce musical cultural programs of Jewish interest including the documentary “Geto: The Historic Ghetto of Venice” and “Colors of the Diaspora”? This year marks the 70th anniversary of Resnik’s debut at the Metropolitan Opera and all proceeds from sales of DVDs, posters and limited-edition artworks on the new online shop of Remi Arts will go toward making the documentary “Voice of a Thousand Colors: Remembering Regina Resnik,” written and produced by Michael Philip Davis.

DVDs, $50, posters $30 and above, plus various artwork and sculpture.

Fire up and enhance your meals with Burning Bush Kosher Hot Sauce. Nathan Kruman, who co-founded the company last year, draws a connection between the menorah and the biblical burning bush: “The flame of each has a deep ripple effect in our lives to this day; both of them were profound experiences.” Kruman, who has been involved in Jewish education, is now passionate about feeding the body and the soul. For Chanukah, he suggests adding some of the hot sauce — made from traditional ingredients with ancient herbs from the Middle East — to latkes and slow-cooked briskets, roasted vegetables, mixed with olive oil as a dip for challah, swirled into hummus or guacamole, mixed with apples and other fruit as a marinade, or mixed with vodka as a drink. Try a splash atop a dollop of sour cream and place that on a latke layered with a slice of nova for “a burst of flavor that keeps on going.” Burning Bush is preservative-free and sugar-free.

$9.95 for an eight-ounce bottle, available in kosher and specialty shops in the metropolitan area, or online (a slightly higher prince includes shipping).

Move this menorah to a new angle every night. From a contemporary design group in Hungary that tries to bridge the Jewish past and future, the Chanukah 21 menorah is in the shape of an octahedron, an eight-sided object — here in lime green — that is turned to a different side for each night of the holiday, with the corresponding number of candle holders.

$1100/$990 museum members. The Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave, Manhattan,, (212) 423-3333.

Reach for these two appealing Chanukah-book-and-plush-toy combinations: “Maccabee on the Mantle” by Abra Liberman Garrett and “Four Day Weekend,” illustrated by Ivan Escalante. Both include a huggable-stuffed Maccabee figure and an illustrated book warmly retelling the Chanukah story, with suggestions of how to make this “honest, brave and true” Maccabee part of your life — “For he is here to remind you that miracles abound” — and to create your own new family traditions. “The Gelt-Giving Golem” by Carolyn Greenwald, illustrated by Suzy Hill, is an inventive story of a figure made from clay in an attic in Prague who goes on to “seek out the good,” sharing chocolate and spreading kindness. The boxed set includes the book along with a plush golem.

“Maccabee on the Mantle,” $34.99 at bookstores. Viper Comics/Toy Vey! LLC,

“The Gelt-Giving Golem,” $29.95 at bookstores. Suca Arts LLC. ,

Find free Chanukah recipes for Piroshki (Crimea), Sfinge, or Turkish donut (Israel), Cinnamon Raisin Sweet Potato Latkes (New York), Chanukah Strudel (Ukraine), and Leek Latkas (New Jersey) at the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC’s) Global Kitchen, with stories about the foods, and the holiday and family connections to the Joint. Also, make a contribution to the Joint — in its 100th anniversary year — to further its efforts to serve the needs of Jewish communities around the world.

Make contributions online or to JDC, P.O. Box 4124, New York, NY 10163

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