Rabbi Rafi RankBy the CyberRav—Rabbi Rafi Rank

With little over a week left before Hanukkah, I thought I might share a few ideas with you about how to trim down your Hanukkah shopping list.  Of course, if you have the money, don’t let me stop you from spending.  Whatever money gets pumped into the veins of this deeply anemic economy would be a blessing.  But my suspicion is that most families are going to be conservative during a recession, and that’s okay too.  It actually is possible to celebrate Hanukkah on a no-frills budget.  So here goes—eight days of economical Hanukkah celebration—

The First Night.  Rent a Marx Brothers film or take it out from the library, pop popcorn, and watch it together as a family.  You say the kids don’t know who the Marx Brothers are?  This is a cultural travesty—all the more reason to rent Duck Soup or some other Marx Brothers’ masterpiece.

The Second Night.  Schlep out the kids’ favorite board games and play together.  It may be difficult for the kids to play something that is not on a computer or television screen, but they will have an incredible amount of fun. 

The Third night.  Fry some latkes together.  It’s not that difficult to mash potatoes, peel onions, and fry up this Hanukkah treat.  If you think it’s fun to eat them, imagine how much fun it will be to make them.  And this is a case where too many cooks cannot possibly spoil the broth.

The Fourth night.  Walk or drive around the neighborhood in search of pretty Christmas displays.  Hanukkah is such a great time to teach our kids respect for our neighbors’ religious convictions.  Christmas decorations for many of our young people are seductive.  It is better to confirm their appeal than deny it, while at the same time conveying the message that this is their tradition, not ours.

The Fifth Night.  Collect all the tzedakah boxes from around the house, count up the money, and decide as a family to which charity this money will go.  This is a very effective way of promoting the mitzvah of tzedakah.  Hanukkah should be less about getting gifts than giving them.

The Sixth Night.  Come home early from work and start Shabbat at sunset.  Light the Hanukkiyah first, then the Shabbat candles, and then start Shabbat when it is supposed to start with sunset.  Nothing says “holiday” as much as taking off from work early to be together as a family over a wonderful Shabbat dinner.

The Seventh Night.   Everyone gets to sing their favorite song, either Jewish or secular and have everyone join in. 

The Eighth Night.  Have we played dreidel yet?  I don’t think so.  Let’s get out those dreidels and spin them next to a heaping plate of sufganiyot (doughnuts). 

There you have it.  Eight days of inexpensive, budget-sensitive fun.  We could all use a little bit of that spirit in these tough economic times.  It is possible to give your credit card a break while still creating for the family the most memorable Hanukkah ever.

This is Rafi Rank, the CyberRav, wishing you a Hag Urim Same’ah, a very Happy Hanukkah, a Shabbat Shalom and encouraging you to spread a little aural Torah around your Cyber community!

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