Chanukah always offers great craft possibilities but it only happens once a year! Thankfully, there are Torah portions, including this one, that describe the construction of the ancient Menorah that existed in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and later in the Mikdash (Temple). The Menorah is an important and beautiful symbol that kids love to create and decorate using various medium. This week’s parsha is called Behaalotcha, which means “when you go up,” referring to Aaron’s “raising the lights” of the Menorah. In Parshat Terumah, the Menorah is described in great detail:
Make a menorah out of pure gold. The menorah shall be formed by hammering it. Its base, stem, and decorative cups, spheres and flowers must be hammered out of a single piece of gold. Six branches shall extend from its sides, three branches on one side of the menorah, and three branches on the other side. There shall be three embossed cups, as well as a sphere and a flower on each and every one of the branches. All six branches extending from the menorah’s stem must be the same in this respect. The shaft of the menorah shall have four embossed cups along with its spheres and flowers. A sphere shall serve as a base for each pair of branches extending from the shaft. This shall be true for all six branches extending from the stem of the menorah. The spheres and branches shall be an integral part of the menorah. They shall all be hammered out of a single piece of pure gold. Make seven lamps on the menorah. Its lamps shall be lit so that they shine primarily toward its center. The menorah’s wick tongs and ash scoops shall also be made out of pure gold. The menorah, including all its parts, shall be made of a talent of pure gold. Carefully observe the pattern that you will be shown on the mountain and make the menorah in that manner.
1) Explain that in this week’s Parsha, Aaron the Cohen is commanded to light the Menorah in the Mishkan.
2) Look at images of the ancient Menorah and compare them to images of a contemporary Chanukiah. (Some differences to note: seven vs. nine branches, in the Temple vs. at home, made of gold vs. anything)
3) Discuss how the Menorah in the Mishkan was made of gold and had lots of decorative aspects.
2) Print the shapes on yellow (or gold!) paper or foam sheets and cut them out.
3) Have kids glue shapes onto the Menorah template.
4) Allow kids to decorate the Menorah even more with gold glitter (if you dare)
1) Hang completed Menorah on the wall.
2) Cut out seven pieces of red cellophane.
3) Place seven loops of tape above each of the branches
4) Blind-fold kids (and adults!) and play pin the flame on the Menorah!
5) Leave the Menorah hanging up to encourage discussion with your Shabbat guests.
Emily Shapiro Katz has been a community Jewish educator for over ten years in Jerusalem, Atlanta, and San Francisco. She lives in Beer Sheva with her husband, Andy, and their four children. Her contributions to this website reflect her interest in teaching Tanach, doing craft projects, and entertaining her kids. Emily blogs about her Parsha Projects at http://parshaprojects.blogspot.com/