By Leah Jalfon, MHWOW Program Manager

At the MHWOW retreat in November, five teams of MHWOW hosts participated in a competition to come up with the most creative Hanukkah programs. Often when we think of Hanukkah programs, we think of the rituals and traditions: lighting candles, eating latkes, giving gifts. However, when we look at the actual story of Hanukkah, we’re able to see that there are many more program possibilities. We recognized themes such as miracles, light and darkness, and resilience, just to name a few. Each team created programs with these ideas in mind.

This competition was meant to be an exercise in creative thinking, but the programs these hosts came up with were really amazing, so I wanted to share them with all of you.

Hanukkah Trivia

“A program for Jews and non-Jews to learn about Hanukkah together through a dreidel trivia game. Each team as a Jew and a non-Jew, and each side of the dreidel has a different question category.”
Hey – History
Shin – Stuff you should know (contemporary questions)
Nun – Notable Jews (the Maccabees, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, etc)
Gimmel – Give me a beat (holiday/Shabbat/other Jewish songs)

Here are some great Hanukkah quizzes you could use to create your game:

For notable Jews, don’t forget about Judith, one of the greatest Jewish heroines who saved her entire village from attack.

Give me a beat: Have you heard Hanukkah+ yet?! It’s a brand new Hanukkah album with songs by Jack Black, HAIM, Yo La Tengo, the Flaming Lips, and more.

And at least for me, Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song will never get old.

Havdallakuh Scavenger Hunt

“An immersive Hanukkah-themed scavenger hunt where teams will decipher Hanukkah clues to find ritual items for Havdallah.”

Use the quiz links above for clue ideas, and award the team to finish first with a bag of gelt! Eating gelt, or chocolate coins, I just learned, is a Hanukkah tradition that comes from “the coins that Maccabean victors distributed to the Jewish widows, soldiers, and orphans, possibly at the first celebration of the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple” (from

If you want your participants to deepen their connections to each other, create the teams beforehand to ensure your guests are getting to know new people. You could include a Hanukkah-themed icebreaker question along with each clue. Examples:

  • What is a miracle you’ve witnessed?
  • Who is one of your heroes?
  • How do you want to share your light with the world?

Spreading the Light

“Participants will serve traditional Hanukkah foods at a homeless shelter, where a speaker will teach about renewable energy, a sustainable source of light. At the end, they will distribute bags with essentials to those at the shelter.”

Looking for some Hanukkah recipes? Here’s a video from The Nosher (my favorite website for Jewish food) on how to make perfect sufganiyot. There’s also one for how to make perfect latkes, and they look delicious.

Check out 25+ latke recipes here – including unique recipes like Mexican Chocolate Latkes and Corned Beef Hash Latkes. Pinterest is also a great place for Hanukkah food ideas like these.

Thinking about putting together donation bags? Here are some examples of perishable items that MHWOW can reimburse for: soaps, travel size bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, granola bars and other snacks, and feminine hygiene products. If there’s something you’re not sure about, just ask us!

Let’s Get Lit

“Yoga and conversation about bringing light into our lives through spiritual rejuvenation.”

Interested in learning more about the intersection of Judaism, mindfulness, and yoga?

I also discovered this surprisingly extensive collection of Chanukah themed yoga pants, so please enjoy.

Hanukkah History and DIY Menorahs

“Participants will learn about Hanukkah history and make their own menorahs. Some menorahs will be made of potatoes, which will double as latkes!”

As silly as it sounds, the Rugrats Chanukah episode is actually informative, as well as super fun and nostalgic. The full episode is on YouTube for $1.99, but if anyone has a hack, please let me know.

Eugene Zeleny, Moishe House Boston RSJ resident, created this guide specifically for a DIY menorah program! It has a full list of supplies with links to purchase online, facilitation tips, and icebreakers.

Are you doing something out-of-the-box for Hanukkah this year? Tell us about it at Happy Hanukkah hosting!