In December, the Middles group learned about Hanukkah and Jews in early America, tying the two ideas together with the themes of hope and optimism. After our warm-up activity, students took turns reading facts about how and why Jews came to the English colonies, as well as Jewish involvement in the American Revolution. We talked about what it’s like to go somewhere you’ve never been before, and made drawings to show our thoughts. After learning Hanukkah-related Hebrew words and music with Sarah, we read an interesting story called Hanukkah at Valley Forge. This book tells how George Washington was inspired when he learned the story of Hanukkah from a Jewish soldier. Believe it or not, it is based on true events! We talked about lighting the menorah, and how at the time of the American Revolution, people might have used oil lamps just like the Maccabees do in the story of Hanukkah. Then we got to work making clay oil lamps – that really work! At the end of class, students got to choose between playing dreidel and completing a Hanukkah coloring page. Note that the oil lamps have now been baked. Students can pick them up at the Hanukkah party, or at the January JCS lesson.