Morah Katz’s first-grade class at HANC’s Samuel & Elizabeth Bass Golding Elementary School in West Hempstead got a taste of Jewish history and made a very unusual menorah. Morah Katz told the story of her family’s “potato menorah.” Morah Katz explained that she grew up in Transylvania, Romania, and that her family had to leave their home during World War II. When they returned to their home after the war, they couldn’t find their menorahs. Morah Katz said that she was very sad that she didn’t have a menorah and that she couldn’t do the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles, but her father told her not to worry because he was going to figure out a way for the family to have a menorah. The family didn’t have money to buy a new menorah so Morah Katz’s father cut a potato in half, scooped out the middle and poured in oil. And it worked!
Morah Katz talked to the students about how important the mitzvah of lighting candles is, even if you have to use a potato, and she told them that even though her family soon moved to Israel and bought a beautiful silver menorah that they lit every year, every Chanukah she always remembers their special “potato menorah.”
After hearing Morah Katz’s stories, the students made their very own potato menorahs. And they worked, too! The students practiced making the berachot and sang the Chanukah songs that they learned in class.
The “potato menorah” was a beautiful lesson about loving mitzvot and, as one of the students said to Morah Katz, “A Jew can do the mitzvah of Chanukah candles at any time because Hashem makes nissim (miracles) all the time, just like He did in the Beit HaMikdash.”
Continuing the Chanukah spirit, Morah Katz and Morah Shoshana’s classes joined forces for a wonderful pre-Chanukah visit to Hoffman Manor, a nursing home in Long Beach. Students sang Chanukah songs, danced with the residents, and gave out Chanukah cards. A wonderful time was had by all! v