Home Depot on Two Notch Road was filled with the sound of tiny hammering Sunday afternoon, as about 80 children crafted their own menorahs.
Organized by Chabad of South Carolina, the workshop celebrated the start of Hanukkah – arriving at sundown Sunday – and gave youngsters the chance to build their own ceramic-tiled menorahs. Home Depot donated craft materials, and Ben and Lisa Arnold provided food.
Store employees supervised and distributed crafting materials, and parents joined in the paint-spattered fun.
“Tonight’s the first night of Hanukkah, and there’s no better way to kick it off than to be with our friends, making menorahs that we’ll light tonight when the sun sets,” said Forest Acres resident Stefanie Cavender, who attended with her daughters Charlize, 5, and Sadie Mae, 3.
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The story of Hanukkah dates to the second century BCE, when the Greek-Syrians ruled over Israel and prohibited Jews from practicing their faith. Judah Maccabee and his brothers were among those who refused to worship pagan gods. They mounted a revolt, defeating the Greek-Syrians and reclaiming the second temple of Jerusalem.
In cleansing the temple for rededication, the Maccabee resistance fighters found enough oil to light the eternal candle for one night. But, miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days.
Thus, Jews light the menorah, a special nine-branched candelabrum, each night of the eight day festival – one candle the first night and additional candles each successive night. The center candle, from which the others are lit, is called a shamesh. Gifts are given and games are played in celebration of the miracle of the lights.
Cavender said the workshop gave her a chance to have fun with the local Jewish community and pass on an important tradition to her daughters. “I grew up making my own menorah at my Hebrew school so I just think it’s really cool they’re making their own ones now and we can use them year after year,” she said.
Devorah Marrus with Chabad partnered with Karen Merritt, operations manager at Home Depot, to make the workshop a reality. This is the second year Marrus has organized the event, and she said she hopes to see it continue.
Marrus echoed Cavender’s sentiment about using a fun activity to teach children important values. “We try to make Judaism very relevant and fun and something meaningful for families and children so they’re proud of who they are, they’re proud of their identities,” Marrus said. “That’s the biggest gift you can give a child.”