All through the week leading up to Hanukka, the three- and four-year-olds in the JCC of Central New Jersey Early Education classes came to school armed with delicate treasures — the menoras they had created at home.
If you were at the JCC for the Open Day last Sunday, Dec. 13, you might have seen the hanukkiot arrayed on tables and bookcases along the corridors.
The littlest students had made their holiday candle-holders with their teachers’ help; the older kids had worked independently in class. But those in the middle got to do their own thing, with help from whomever they could enlist at home, using whatever materials they could find.
Robin Wander, early childhood program coordinator, explained that the staff wanted the children to use their creativity and explore their own resources, rather than simply relying on store-bought products. “They really got into the spirit of the holiday,” she said, looking around with delight at all the wildly different creations.
One menora could be plugged in. The others, for the most part, were definitely not for lighting. Nevertheless, they shone bright — with the ingenuity that went into them, the family collaboration they surely involved, and what they reflected of their makers’ passions.
So, to mention just a few:
One set of candleholders ran along the tail of a fierce cardboard dragon. Another featured the faces of all the children in the family, surrounded by candle-holding cars and trucks. There were “candles” made of pretzels, marshmallows and goldfish crackers, twigs, and spoons. One arose from a baseball diamond, another from a pineapple, and another from a set of dolls’ tea cups — all perhaps a long way from the grand menora in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, but still filled with wonder.