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A Chanukah Parenting Idea – and some Safety Information
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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Dear Readers:

As we raised our children on a klei kodesh salary, we were always looking for enjoyable, inexpensive ways to spend time together as a family and to celebrate yomim tovim.

Please allow us to share an idea that we came up with more than 20 years ago to distribute Chanukah gelt to our children – and is still a crowd-pleaser in our family.

Instead of simply giving Chanukah-gelt to our children, we would fill a basin to the top with all the loose change we had in the house, and each child had one turn ‘bobbing-for-money.’ Basically, they would get to place one hand in the pile of coins, pull out as much money as they could in one ‘lift’ – and that would be their ‘Chanukah gelt.’ Naturally, the older children would get more than the younger kids as their hands were larger, but they would all have a grand time doing it.

Later, we started adding dollar coins and some tokens that could be traded in for 3 or 5 dollars, respectively (our children had to close their eyes when they ‘dipped for money.’)

It is one of the highlights of Chanukah for our children – including our grown children nowadays – and they enjoy it far more than simply getting Chanukah gelt from us.

Feel free to ‘try this at home.’ We didn’t copyright the idea!

Best wishes for a frieleichen and meaningful Chanukah

Yakov and Udi Horowitz

I am including an article that The Front Page, a Monsey publication, ran last year as part of an overall awareness campaign – that also included visits to local schools by firefighters. The campaign helped reduce the number of Menorah-related fires in the greater Monsey area from 20-30 per year (the average number of fires in previous years) to only 1 Baruch Hashem, last year.

Please forward to others on your list. hopefully, we can help reduce the number of Chanukah fires worldwide as well.


Here is the column:

It’s Chanukah again!! Enjoy your yom tov and may we remember the true meaning of the days, and grow accordingly (spiritually, of course).

With Chanukah come Menorahs, with Menorahs come flames, and with flames comes the extreme need for vigilance. Just as there is a Mitzvah to light the Menorah, there is still the obligation of V’Nishmartem Me’od, do all that you can to make sure that you are safe from avoidable tragedy.

Although you light candles every Shabbos, and exercise reasonable fire safety, when Chanukah comes, there is an extra need to be careful. Not that the fire from Chanukah Menorahs burns hotter, but circumstances surrounding the way we light the Menorah make it different from Shabbos Candles, for the following reasons.

  1. Shabbos candles are typically lit on the center of a large table, or a heavy server table in the dining room. A Menorah will typically be placed on a folding table near a window or small bench at the door, which may not be as stable.

  2. Chanukah is a time where there are family gatherings. Although on Shabbos you may also have family get-togethers, the adults usually sit around the table (where the candles are) while the children run around the living room, den, or in or around the entryway (where the candles are not). On Chanukah the children may be more likely to jump around where the candles are, while the adults sit at the seudah table where the candles may be out of sight.

  3. On Chanukah there may be more dancing and other activity near the candles.

  4. Since Menorahs by their very placement are closer to curtains, or doors that can close on them, knocking them down, they may be more likely to lead to danger.

  5. I bet you never saw a Shabbos Leichter made out of wood, right? However, our children do make adorable Menorahs out of wood in preschool, with the understanding that the metal cups glued onto the Menorah would be enough to insulate the wood from fire. WRONG! Take a look at this picture of a Menorah that was constructed for kindergarteners at one of our largest local Yeshivas. The “Shammas” is higher than the rest of the Menorah, and on the eighth day, the combined heat of all eight candles caused the wooden center to burst into flame. Only the fact that with the grace of HaShem someone noticed and the fire was completely extinguished.

  6. On Shabbos, you light the candles, and then you stay home. Chanukah candles are not allowed to be put out before the requisite time length, and you have parties and other Chanukah activities to attend. Out the door you go!

According to the National Fire Incident Repording System, 85% of candle fire incidents start because of consumer misuse, meaning that responsible requisite care would help avoid them. Since a misfortune in out community is felt by all, please help all of us celebrate our Chanukah in happiness, and avoid all unpleasantness! Please be careful and follow these safety rules:

  1. Table Surface should be fireproof. Spread several layers of foil over the wooden table or cloth, use trays large enough to protect the surface even if the Menorah is knocked over. Or place a sheet of glass on top of the entire table.
  2. The placement of the Menorah is very clear in Halacha that it should be above twelve inches but within 40 inches above the ground, in the doorway. Notwithstanding the fact that that the now widely accepted Psak is that in our days the Menorah is for the B’nei Bays, and therefore the correct placement is in the house, nevertheless, some still place it at the door. If you do, make sure that children do not run near it. If you can’t watch it the entire time, get a psak from your Rav. Ask if it would then be better to place the Menorah out of the reach of children.
  3. Make sure that curtains are minimum three feet from the Menorahs. Not only three feet from the menorah standing, but three feet from the reach of the Menorah if it was knocked over.
  4. It seems elementary, but if there are children or pets in a house, DO NOT LEAVE THE CANDLES OUT OF YOUR SIGHT, even for ONE MINUTE! In the same report, the NFIRS reported that 16% of candle incidents were started by no other reason than the candle was left unattended.
  5. If you are letting your child light a Menorah they made in school, please recognize any danger and act accordingly, even they beg to light their “special Menorah”

Please take notice of above tips, and may celebrate a wonderful Chanukah. Next year in Yerushalayim!

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