Hanukkah Is More Than Just Gifts

Hanukkah Gifts – Hanukkah is here and for some it’s a time for gifts. For some Jewish families, gathering to play games as the holiday candles burn is part of the eight-day Festival of Lights commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians.

But let’s face it, spinning a dreidel for money, chocolate or otherwise, can be mind-numbingly dull, for older kids and grown-ups, at least.

That’s why the “heebsters” over at Moderntribe.com carry the Spinagogue, a mighty stadium in the center of a Star of David-shaped board. It comes with six different “terrains” for courageous spin-offs between players and has storage for gelt, because — as the box says — “No Gelt, No Glory!” And it has walls, so no watching dreidels fly off the table or under the couch.

Remember Racko, where you slip cards into slots? Try “Parsh-O,” with cards based on the Torah rather than numbers. Or gift “Kosherland,” which is akin to Candy Land, only players pass Bubby, the Kiddush Ocean and Matzah Man instead of a Candy Cane Forest and Gum Drop Mountain.

Yo-yos are fun, yes? Pick up a Yo Bagel. It looks like a bagel, comes in a plastic takeout box and works the same as a regular yo-yo.

There’s also Torah Slides and Ladders, the Jewish rendition of Chutes and Ladders, offering a speedy trip to the top of the board for “loving your fellow Jew,” or a sad slide to the bottom for making noise in synagogue.

Have you played the card game Slamwich? There’s SCHMEAR! Players build a bagel sandwich instead of the square-bread variety using cards for food slices like the original. In the Jewish version, bad things happen when cards for an old tractor tire or a manhole cover surface.

The creative force behind dozens of Jewish-themed games and toys is Abe Blumberger, the president and owner of Jewish Educational Toys. He’s a Hanukkah wholesaler in Chicago who’s been in business selling gifts for 25 years.