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Just in Time: A Final Chanukah Present for All!

December 26, 2022 | Last Day of Chanukah

Dear Beit Rabban Community,

On this last day of Chanukah, I cannot stop smiling as I scroll through photos of the past eight days on the school’s Flickr account. I had not realized I was smiling until I started to notice the muscles in my face working harder. But, how could anyone not smile seeing the energy, engagement, and sweetness in each of these pictures?

  • Students in K-8 work together in their Whole School Project groups, play together in the park, and travel together on the subway. Middle school students hold the hands of their younger peers as they cross the street.

  • A Whole School Project group hands out envelopes across the Upper West Side, each filled with a note explaining the miracle of Chanukah and the mitzvah to share this miracle; a list of organizations that the students researched and identified as deserving of support; and Chanukah-themed stickers. A pile of envelopes is left at the local kosher store.

  • A group of middle school students study the story of Judith and Holofernes through text and art and enthusiastically prepare to paint their decapitation scenes.

  • A Whole School Project group goes store to store to deliver small posters of inspiration that include a quote from Rav Kook about the importance of spotlighting each person’s distinct light and suggestions for how to spread your own light.

  • Preschoolers dance their hearts out at a Chanukah “light party” in a dark room with tons of flashlights, glow sticks, and other glow-in-the-dark items.

  • A “miracle machine” made from cardboard and lots of love is set up on 86 Street to encourage passersby to pause and notice a miracle in their life. The miracle machine is paired with a recording station for people to share their everyday miracles on video.

  • Teachers award each other “BeitRaBANIE” trophies (inspired by The Office) at our end-of-semester staff party, and each is met with a raucous round of applause.

  • Classes are welcomed into homes across the neighborhood to visit unique collections of chanukiot.

  • A “shoebox theater” performance of the Chanukah story is performed by a Whole School Project group for preschool students.

  • Preschoolers experiment with oil and water and are filled with wonder at their discoveries.

  • A Whole School Project group prepares a series of TikTok videos telling the story of Chanukah through scripted, short, and hilarious scenes.

  • Students deliver sandwiches to a local community fridge, each wrapped with a card celebrating various holidays of the season that their Whole School Project group had learned about before making and wrapping the sandwiches.

  • Another Whole School Project Group sings a song they wrote about the miracles of Chanukah.

  • A first-grade class closely observes 2nd-century BCE Greek oil lamps at the Met.

  • Children take turns at the microphone to share Chanukah messages with everyone at our community lighting.

These pictures tell the story of children internalizing ancient rituals while forging personal meaning in them; the story of children steeped in the particularism of traditions and engaging them for universal benefit; and the story of children building community through Jewish practice. They tell the story of how eight very short and dark days can be transformed into bright and long-lasting memories. They tell the story of immersive Jewish education at its best.

I hope the vignettes described above, which I encourage you to scroll through in photos, add a little extra light to your home on this last day of Chanukah and put a smile on your face. I see them as the most wonderful of Chanukah presents, nachas from our children.

Wishing all a healthy and rejuvenating winter break,


Some our favorite scenes from the Whole School Project

Everyday Miracle Machine Whole School Project Group

TikTok Retelling of Chanukah Whole School Project Group

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