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November 2015

As we wrapped up our fall holidays on Simchat Torah, a wise woman wished farewell to her friends with the greeting – Happy Chanukah. We never stop celebrating and as we finish one holiday we begin to prepare for the next one. Soon, we will be turning to each other with the all too familiar “I can’t believe it’s Chanukah already.” So, let’s take some time to think more deeply about the holiday before we get caught up in latke recipes, guest lists and gift wrapping.

It is interesting to note that the root of the Hebrew word Chanukah is actually chinuch, which means education. The word Chanukah is also associated with dedication.

So we take the opportunity at this time of year to rededicate ourselves to education.

At CAI Early Childhood Center we are first and foremost concerned about the education of our very young children. We want to be sure that we educate them properly but also open them up to be excited about a life of education. We instill in them a spark of curiosity and interest in the hope that it makes them want to be lifelong learners.

Dr. Lillian Katz, one of the world’s great educators and thinkers about early childhood education, speaks in her writings about our responsibility to educate our children to become thinking learners. The disposition towards learning needs to be instilled early. We aim to encourage skills such as making observations and understanding cause and effect. Before we begin to impart information, we must be encouraging children to want to learn. We set up provocations, situations to pique their curiosity, to make them question and to make them want to learn.

As you begin to think about your own celebrations of Chanukah with your children, use this time to rededicate yourselves to encouraging this disposition of thinking and learning. Don’t just open a box – first ask – “what do you think may be inside? How would you know? What made you think about that?”

For older children, don’t just pick the candles out of the box each night and put them in the menorah. Ask the children “what night of Chanukah is it? How can you find out? How many candles will we need?”

Our society is giving us too many answers too quickly – sometimes before we ask the question.

- We no longer have to wonder about which artist is singing the song we are listening to on the radio – it comes up automatically on the digital readout.

-No need to wait and see who is calling, the name is there on the caller ID.

Let us look for ways to re-establish the wonder – and open up the questions – and in doing so we will be witness to continued miracles around us.

May 29,2020 /  6 Sivan 5780