Hanukah Lights Activity

Posted by PCJE Staff on November 23, 2021
Topics: Holidays

Hanukah Lights

Note: this activity was not about learning the story of Hanukah. They should already know it.

Goal: To help the students understand the lights of Hanukah as representing the mitzvot or their Jewish identity.


  • Yahrzeit candles (they are the safest to use)
  • Laminated squares of paper with mitzvot on them
  • Watching the video “Lights“.
  • Optional singing “HaNerot Halalu”


1. Students come into a room and each student sits in front of an unlit candle that is sitting on or next to a piece of laminated card or paper that has a mitzvah written on it.

2. Introduction: Hanukah is called, חג האורים. Does anyone know why? What do the lights of Hanukah symbolize or mean when we light them? We’re going to tell the story of Hanukah now and you’re going to help. First, let’s read what’s on your cards. (Go around and each student reads what’s on their card). Who knows what these all are? (Make sure they understand. You can write them in English or Hebrew).

Yes, they are all mitzvot that many of do all the time.

Here’s the rule: as I tell the story, when I mention the mitzvah that is next to you, I want you to gently blow out the candle that I will now light.

3. Go around lighting the candles. You should have a Shabbat or Hanukah candle to light the candles with or it will take too long. Also, having another adult in the room with you is critical!!

I would warn them that candles can be dangerous and if anyone plays with them you will have the candle blown out.

4. Turn off the lights and just sit silently enjoying the candlelight for a minute or two as they settle down.

5. Tell the story.

“In the beginning, Israel was filled with light and the people loved their lights……(use your imagination).  Then the Greeks came and didn’t like the lights, they slowly made rules to snuff out the lights.

Rules like…..”it is forbidden to celebrate shabbat”, etc…till the room is almost completely dark.

When there is one candle left…”as darkness came to Israel, the people were cold and afraid. One man, Mattiyahu, knew that he must save the last light or all would be lost, so he stood in front of the last light and refused to let the Greeks put it out”.. You can take the last light and hold it behind you. Mattiyahu saved the light and helped bring back the lights to Israel.

6. Process the story and ask again: what do the lights symbolize? If the lights could speak what would they say? What are WE saying when we light these lights?

If you want, sing the song “Don’t let the lights go out” or “Hanerot Halalu” or another song or see the video “Lights”.

About PCJE Staff

The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators trains and empowers pre-service Jewish studies teachers and experiential Jewish educators to serve as knowledgeable, skilled, reflective and passionate professionals. PCJE also provides in-service training programs, in-service support, professional development, and curricular programming. PCJE has amassed and created an extensive and useful collection of content and resources for Jewish educators. Click here to search the PCJE Elmad channel.

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