Gal Kessler Rohs, a La Cañada Unified School District parent and education director for Temple Beth David Religious School, helped bring Hanukkah to life for some Palm Crest Elementary School students on Wednesday with the help of dreidels, a menorah and some jelly doughnuts.
Kessler Rohs’ daughter Libby attends kindergarten at PCR, and both displayed their passion for the season.
Hanukkah is an eight-day festival paying homage to the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after Jewish forces defeated the Syrians. This year, Hanukkah begins the night of Sunday, Dec. 22, and ends the evening of Monday, Dec. 30.
“What does Libby’s T-shirt say here?” Kessler Rohs asked the approximately 20 students sitting in teacher Rebecca McLarty’s classroom.
“Hanukkah!” nearly all of the students shouted.
“Exactly,” Kessler Rohs said. The shirt also featured an image of a menorah. “We’re going to be learning about the story of Hanukkah today.”
With that, Kessler Rohs went into a brief description of how the season came to be as well as displaying a large dreidel and lighting a menorah with her daughter.
“I could have focused on the destruction or anti-Semitism or evil kings, but instead of that I’m focusing on the lighting up of my menorah or the arts and crafts part of it to make it more age appropriate,” Kessler Rohs said. Fitting in with that goal were the dreidels, spinning tops — and Hanukkah playthings — that the students were given to take home.
After the menorah’s candles were lighted, students went to their desks and starting making their own menorahs, using materials including wood, glitter and glue.
The doughnuts Kessler Rohs brought for the students are traditional, she told the class, because they’re made with the use of oil, which helped light the temple’s menorah for a miraculous length of days.
McLarty said the district wanted youths to start learning about diversity at a young age.
“In kindergarten we teach them the different holidays around the world,” said McLarty, who said she asked Kessler Rohs to speak to the class. “And Hanukkah is one of the ones we focus on. It’s a fun learning opportunity, it’s age appropriate, and it’s a great way for the kids to learn a little bit more about another holiday and culture.”