How many times have you given or received Hanukkah presents in Christmas wrapping paper because Hanukkah wrapping was nowhere to be found? Used birthday candles in a Menorah? Had your kid sit on Santa's lap for holiday greeting cards and then photoshopped Santa to look more like Judah Mackabee? Okay, maybe not the last one...
But it is safe to say that Jewish families are constantly faced with the tall order of convincing kids that Hanukkah is just as 'cool' as Christmas.
For the last three years, Chabad of the Rivertowns has opened a three-week seasonal Hanukkah store—complete with menorahs, candles, Mezuzahs, Hanukkah wrapping and dreidels. There are even activities for kids—like fishing for latkes and "Drei-blade" a spin-off (pun intended) on the popular game "beyblade."
Dobbs Ferry residents Hinda and Benjy Silverman opened the volunteer-run shop in 2009 to give Jewish families in the area a one-stop Hanukkah shopping destination.
"People constantly come up and say thank you to us for doing this," Hinda said. "Hanukkah is such a fun holiday. Kids can come here and feel like they're celebrating the way other kids celebrate Christmas."
Activities like decorating paper dreidels are open all the time. On Sundays, they offer special activities like donut and candle-making.
On Christmas Day, Chabad of the Rivertowns has rented Elmsford's Westchester Skating Academy from 1 to 3 p.m. for an ice party complete with a giant ice Menorah and a fire juggler.
Besides running Chanukah Wonderland and Chabad of the Rivertowns, the Silvermans keep busy with their seven children ranging in age from 11 months to 10 years.
"We're just excited to provide a place where kids can go to experience Hanukkah," Hinda said. "We also have the best prices on gifts."
Chanukah Wonderland is located at 27 Center St. in Ardsley (next to DeCiccos). Hours are: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It will be open through Dec. 27.
Chanukah begins this year on Dec. 20.