By CHRIS CURTIS
(Published in print: Monday, December 22, 2014)
GREENFIELD -- With the sun down and the electric lights dimmed, a laughing group celebrated the sixth night of Hanukkah with candles and song Sunday, lighting seven candles on each of six menorahs and adding the smells of burning wax to those of fried potato pancakes, doughnuts and cookies in the Temple Israel basement on Pierce Street.
Songs in Hebrew and English and the lighting of the menorahs followed an evening of games and food in the temple children's party.
Noah Wein, 9, of Athol started the dreidel game with a spin of the small plastic top. Landing the symbol "pay," he took half the central pile of gold and silver foil-wrapped chocolate coins. His brother Eli, 6, spun next, landing "gimel" and clearing away the central pile, prompting a general contribution of one coin per player to revive play.
Dreidels spun wildly across and off the table for about five minutes, the game cut short by the announcement of the "doughnut game." The doughnut game involved eating a doughnut hanging from a string without the use of hands and the draw of immediate doughnuts proved stronger than that of eventual chocolate coins.
Noah and Eli's mother, Amanda Pagar Wein, said the holiday celebrates the miracle of oil -- oil burned by the Maccabees during an ancient resistance -- and as a result Hanukkah includes a lot of fried food, notably doughnuts and potato latkes.
At the dreidel table, 8-month-old Maya occasionally eyed and occasionally grabbed a large, blue wooden dreidel decorated with Winnie the Pooh bears. "I figured it was the right size for her, she can't swallow it," said mother Cheryl Finell of Greenfield. Finell said she's newly returned to the area and though Maya isn't old enough to play, the celebration represents a chance to connect to people and traditions she will understand as she grows.
"She is little, but it's just the two of us and I'm not really religious, but I am Jewish, Jewish-ish, and I wanted her to know the traditions, traditions are important," Finell said.
Yedod Snir of Greenfield attended with his wife and their three young daughters, ranging from 2 months to 6 years old.
Snir, who accompanied the singing on his guitar, said the songs were his favorite part of the holiday growing up in Israel. His daughters he said probably prefer the gifts.
"Kids, it's kind of a challenge for them growing up here maintaining the religion, they haven't seen many Hanukkahs in Israel, only here," he said. "The important thing is probably just the family doing something together."
The celebration drew 37, a dozen of them children, some new to the tradition.
Barbara Giguere of Shelburne brought granddaughter Lilly Giguere of Greenfield from a carolling session at their church. The elder Giguere said Lilly, at age 3, asked "How come everyone gets to celebrate Hanukkah except for me?" As a result, she started cooking her latkes and they began learning about the holiday, and when she saw a sign for the Hanukkah party saying all were welcome, she took it at its word. "She's a little sponge right now, let's learn about everything we can," Giguere said.
You can reach Chris Curtis at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 257