Fruitville Elementary second graders spent Dec. 17 learning about Hanukkah traditions.
At the start of December each year, the Christmas holiday has a tendency to take over. From music and movies to food and decor, it seems as if around every corner stands a brightly lit tree or a Santa Claus blow-up.
Mary Collier has three children ages 8-12 and is often invited into their classrooms to share the traditions for one of the other many winter holidays: Hanukkah. With her she'd bring a children's book about the story of Hanukkah, dreidels, gold coins and latkes.
"It can be difficult this time of year when you're one of few Jewish kids in the classroom," Collier said. "So I came up with this idea to make it easy for moms to bring Hanukkah to classrooms for their children."
A volunteer at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Collier spoke with PJ Library, a nonprofit Jewish engagement and literacy program for Jewish and interfaith families with young children, and the idea for Hanukkits was born. Each kit comes with dreidels, plastic coins and a Hanukkah themed PJ Library book. In its second year, 40 kits were distributed to parents and classrooms around the Sarasota area.
Michala Chipurnoi, a second grade teacher at Fruitville Elementary School, jumped at the idea of bringing Hanukkits into her classroom.
Chipurnoi is teaching her students about holiday traditions around the world, and the Hanukkits fit right in. Of 17 students in the class, none celebrate Hanukkah.
Skylar Wissler, 8, said she had a vague understanding of what the Jewish holiday was citing that the those who celebrate the holiday light eight candles, but the kit helped her learn more about the holiday. Her favorite part of the day was playing the dreidel game, which she said she wants to take home and share with her friends and family.