8 Ways to Celebrate Chanukah in the Age of COVID


By Amy Goldberg, Community member and Religious School Director at Beth El Religious School, former Macks CJE Connector

At our house, we try to make little things in life seem like a holiday during this pandemic. For example, for Oriole’s Opening Day, we wore our O’s gear, ate hot dogs for dinner and had ice cream in O’s helmet bowls.  Now that the winter holidays are upon us, I am up at night thinking of ways to celebrate Chanukah this year, when we cannot be with our family and friends. 

As a Jewish educator it is my job and pure joy to make holidays fun and educational for my students. As a mom, I am delighted to see the joy in my son’s face when he is engaged in holiday celebrations. My son Asher, who turns 4 on the second day of Chanukah this year, eagerly sings Chanukah songs and plays dreidel as he asks if Chanukah is here yet. I CANNOT disappoint this young boy!

Here are a few ways that I plan to bring the holiday alive for my family this year:

1. Create experiences from books

One of Asher’s favorite books is Queen of the Chanukah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg. This year, we will read the book and make mango lassi together. There are many Chanukah themed books that can spark ideas for engagement. For ideas, visit pjlibrary.org.

2. Dress your fam in holiday jams

Every year, when the leaves start changing, I start collecting Chanukah themed clothing for my kids. Many are hand-me-downs and some are $4 shirts from Target. This year, I have collected matching pajamas for my son and his baby sister and I’m thrilled to dress them alike each night as we light the candles.

3. Design a latke bar

If this is not the year to make your latkes from scratch, I don’t know when it is.  I love to cook for holidays. I take notes, research recipes, and visit blogs until I compile my ideal holiday menu. This year, I look forward to offering my family (and only my immediate family) some unique takes on the traditional latke. Whether it’s a smoked salmon topping or pickle latkes made by my favorite Jewish food blogger Molly Yeh, I am making my (shopping) list and checking it twice!

4. Show your essential workers that you care

Every year I make sweet treats for the people who make our lives better. From our gatehouse attendants to our mailperson, they will all receive a box of cookies made and decorated by my family.  I know my son will look forward to safely passing them out to very deserving people.

5. Participate in JVC’s Mitzvah WEEK

Jewish Volunteer Connection is offering a week of hands on projects this year. For $70, your family will receive supplies for five projects, from winter care packages to tie dye mask supplies. It is a great set of projects to do with your family or give as a Chanukah gift.  The best part is that these completed projects serve a crucial need in the community. For more information visit jvcbaltimore.org.

6. Celebrate with the community

There are some fun ways that the community is coming together and making safe programming for families. I love the creative ways that the CJE’s Community Connectors are offering Chanukah kits for young families. Filled with crafts, dreidels and gelt, they will bring them to your homes. In addition, conservative congregations are hosting a Chanukah themed drive in movie and candle lighting on the third night of Chanukah.

7. Shop Local

There are some great opportunities to support local businesses during this challenging time.  Think about your friends and neighbors who are local makers when gifting and enhancing your own family’s holiday celebrations. Hot cocoa bombs are this year’s popular winter treat. Several small businesses are offering unique flavors that are delicious and easy to gift. Shop locally to support your community and offer some fun and delicious treats for your family and friends.

8. Connect with family

Zooming with your grandparents while opening gifts could be the best way to Zoom! Eight nights of Chanukah means eight opportunities to call family members or friends. I set up a schedule with family members to virtually light candles and see the kids open a gift.

There’s no way to avoid the fact that this holiday season is going to be different. But if you take time to find joy in the small things, your kids will be right there with you!


Subscribe to our newsletter

The Associated is a home for everyone in the Baltimore Jewish community. We offer several email lists to help people find a community, engage with their peers and support Jewish journeys around the world.

Join Our Mailing List

Join Our Community

Small steps to make big impact in Baltimore, Israel and around the world


Subscribe to our newsletter

The Associated is a home for everyone in the Baltimore Jewish community. We offer several email lists to help people find a community, engage with their peers and support Jewish journeys around the world.

Join Our Mailing List