Jewish Mother Helps Children Understand Hanukkah

by Donna McCollum

Hanukkah began on Wednesday. For the few Jewish families that call East Texas home, keeping the traditions of Hanukkuh alive can be very challenging. One Nacogodches woman has found a way to help her children understand their family's faith.

Each Hanukkah, Rachel Galan explains the Jewish holiday to her child's class. We asked her daughter, Brier why? "I don't really know. It may be because we're like really the only Jewish family in town."

That's true, but it's not the reason. Rachel wants her children to be proud of their faith, particularly during Hanukkah. "It's the one time we publicly display our faith by lighting a Hanukiyah (the Hanukkah menorah) and put it in a window, like you do a tree," explained Rachel to a classroom of fifth graders.

Rachel tells a story of how the display of a Hanukkah menorah led to hatred for a young Jewish boy. "Someone had thrown a brick through his window, and there was glass all over his bed, and his mom had to explain about hate, racism, and bigotry, and how some people hate minorities and hate them because they are Jewish."

The meaningful lesson of tolerance brings lots of questions. Many are about how the Jewish family accepts Christmas. Rachel shared, "We have a tree because it's Brier's father's tradition. It's fun. It's beautiful. We appreciate the holiday for its beauty, for its lessons of kindness it also teaches, like ours."

But only Hanukkah can claim a spinning top called a dreidel.

Galan brings the news, "Okay, I have the dreidel. The children respond with an enthusiastic, "Yes!"

The children's game is based on Hebrew letters that mean "A Miracle Happened Here". A dedicated mom is helping make that a reality.