While everyone talks of Santa Claus, and the streets are lined with red and green decorations, it’s our responsibility to bring awareness to other holidays from unique and diverse cultures. Most people like to conflate Hanukkah as the Jewish Christmas, but it’s far from its “Christian” counterpart. Hanukkah has its own beautiful traditions and stories that have tried to be erased for generations.
Against all odds to wipe out the Jewish community, they still stand today. Their traditions and hopes still live on, and we here at Bookstr would like to celebrate with them. Keep reading to find out why books are such a vital part of the Jewish experience and get 11 great gift ideas for everyone in the family.
A Tradition of Literacy
You might be thinking, “What do Judaism and Hanukkah have to do with books?” And the answer to that is everything. If you’re looking for a bookish holiday, Hanukkah and many other Jewish holidays revolve around the importance of stories and books. From Judaism’s conception, literacy has been at the forefront of the religion and still continues to hold importance. In a 2017 interview with CNN, Adam Kirsch, author of The People and the Books, described how literacy and reading are intrinsically tied to the Jewish faith.
“Before 70 CE, Judaism was centered on the Temple, a physical place where they worshipped, sacrificed, celebrated holidays. It was the place where they connected to God. After it was destroyed, Judaism had to find other ways to connect to God. The answer was through the study of sacred texts, particularly the law and the Talmud. It was a major transformation from a temple-based to text-based culture.”Adam Kirsch, CNN
From the very beginning of time, books were already a solid part of Jewish culture. The Talmud states that during Rosh Hashanah, God writes our names in three different books. The Book of Life for the good, The Book of Death for the evil, and a book for those in the middle. It’s also required that everyone read sacred texts like the Torah and Talmud, so it makes sense why books would become a part of everyday life for Jewish people.
The love of literature still holds strong today for many in the Jewish community. Since we here at Bookstr share the same love for books, we’d like to offer some great bookish gifts for those who celebrate Hanukkah. You should have the space, protection, and love to honor the traditions of long ago.
1. You’re My Little Latke by Natalie Marshall
If you’re wanting your little one to know some of the basic treats and traditions of Hanukkah, then get them You’re My Little Latke by Natalie Marshall. Not only does this book teach them about the importance of gelt, dreidels, and menorahs, but it also will hold their attention. With raised elements and interactive cut-outs, your kids will be enchanted by the cute designs and fun rhymes about the holiday, all while learning basic vocabulary about Hanukkah.
You can buy You’re My Little Latke by clicking here!
2. Countdown Candy
Delicious treats are an important part of Hanukkah, so get your family and friends their own eight-day set with this Countdown Candy Box. Sold by Etsy shop, CampusSurvivalKits, they’ve included both traditional Hanukkah sweets and everyday candies that we know well. With chocolate gelt, gumballs, sixlets, Dove chocolate, Lindor truffles, jelly beans, and Hershey kisses, it’s a good thing that you can only open one a day; otherwise, your friends and family might get a sugar rush.
Purchase this Countdown Candy Box, here!
3. Peppa Pig Happy Hanukkah Book by Cala Spinner
Even as a 23-year-old, I can understand why kids have such a love for Peppa Pig. If your children or grandkids absolutely adore this cute pig, then you should give them Peppa Pig Happy Hanukkah. With a familiar cartoon character teaching them about the traditions of Hanukkah, they’re bound to be enamored by the little pigs eating Latke, playing games, and lighting the menorah. Included in the book are holiday stickers and a fact sheet at the end of the book, ensuring that young readers can understand and enjoy the traditions of Hanukkah.
You can pick up this Hanukkah Peppa Pig book, here!
4. Hanukkah Sensory Kit
During the holidays, kids can sometimes get a little restless waiting for gifts and wanting to interact with the family. Lean into their want to play with this Hanukkah sensory kit! Sold by Etsy shop, ThePlaytimePlanner, this is a great gift for toddlers. They can now sit at the table with their playdough and other fun toys, while you get all of your holiday chores done. Included in this set are homemade packs of playdough, dreidels, play gelt, peg people, and other interactive sensory toys that are sure to grab their attention.
Get this Hanukkah Sensory Kit, here!
5. Jewish Comfort Food Cookbook by Shannon Sarna
Don’t worry, adults; we haven’t forgotten about you! The one thing that every holiday around the world has is amazing food. For the cook in your household, get them the ultimate comfort food cookbook. Jewish Comfort Food by Shannon Sarna includes all of their favorites, as well as recipes showcasing the vastness of Jewish cuisine. From dishes originating in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, the United States, and beyond, these meals are sure to wow the family during dinner.
Pick up Jewish Comfort Food, here!
6. Funny Candles
Is it really the holidays without lighting candles around the house? As Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, it’s almost required to gift a candle. But why not add a little joke to it? Etsy seller RiverLilyCandles has the perfect candle for you. Bring a smile to your friends and family’s faces with this candle that says, “Don’t Jew-Wish You Were Hot Like Me?” Whoever you give this candle to, you’re bound to get some laughs. Not only that, but you can customize this candle with whatever scents your family likes. With warm and inviting smells in the air, it’s sure to add a nostalgic holiday atmosphere.
You can purchase this funny customizable candle, here!
7. Bookmark Set
Since you’re going to be giving out a lot of books, it only seems right to gift some unique bookmarks as well! Wanting some original designs? Then Etsy shop IntheDaylightShop is the place to go. These handmade bookmarks will make a great addition for the bookworm in your life. As a bonus, you don’t get just one bookmark, you get a set of five for only $10.65! These bookmarks are a steal with their fabulous price and charming designs.
Pick out your set of five bookmarks, here!
While they might not be the most exciting gift when you’re little, you learn to love getting socks for the holidays. But don’t get the younglings just any socks; get them something that will last, and help others in the process. This four-pack of youth ankle socks from Bombas will be the most comfortable socks they’ll ever wear. They’re so nice, that they’ll start asking for socks every Hanukkah. The best part about buying from Bombas is that with every item sold, they distribute that same item to someone in need. So, whether they’re young or old, everyone deserves a nice pair of socks.
Buy this four-pack box set of socks, here!
9. The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler
Trying to find a good way to inform your kids where the traditions of Hanukkah come from? Then The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler is the perfect gift to give them. Made for ages 5-10, this book dives into the history of how Hanukkah came to be. By recounting the heroic Maccabees and the miracle inside the Temple of Jerusalem with simple text and colorful illustrations, your kids will not only be more informed, but they’ll have a better appreciation for celebrating Hanukkah.
Get The Story of Hanukkah, here!
Need something to go with the fancy socks you got your family? Slippers might just be what you’re looking for! Who doesn’t like a nice pair of shoes to walk around the house in? These memory foam slippers will not only provide comfort but will keep everyone’s feet nice and warm against the coldness of winter. You can rest assured that your family won’t slip in these slippers. With a rubber sole, these slippers will last for many Hanukkahs to come.
Add these slippers to your cart, here!
11. Red and Green and Blue and White by Lee Wind
The lived experience of many Jewish children in the United States can be filled with turmoil. Amongst all the talk of Christmas and Santa Claus, those who celebrate Hanukkah are constantly left out and othered. If your child is feeling those same emotions as the holidays arrive, getting them the book, Red and Green and Blue and White will let them know that they aren’t alone.
This book tells the story of Isaac and his family. While the rest of their block is decorated for Christmas, their house is shining with blues and whites. Isaac can’t wait until Hanukkah starts, but when a rock smashes through their window one night, Isaac realizes that his family is different. But his family and the community won’t stand for this. Soon enough, every house in town makes their own hand drawings of menorahs, and the town now shines in not only red and green but also blue and white. This book will let your children know that while they might celebrate something different, they still have a rightful place in this world, especially during the holidays.
Purchase Red and Green and Blue and White, here!
With these 11 gifts, you’re bound to become a shining example of how to be the best gift giver. Hanukkah is a time to be with family and honor the history of long ago. We hope that these bookish gifts will add to the beautiful traditions and bring excitement to the eight days of Hanukkah.
For more holiday gift guides, click here!
Looking for more Jewish representation in literature? Click here!