Steamboat students learn the basics of Hanukkah |

Steamboat students learn the basics of Hanukkah

— Between lunch and a reading hour at Soda Creek Elementary School on Thursday, Jill Waldman placed two menorahs at the front of Beth Leech's kindergarten classroom. Almost immediately, a group of students stepped forward to take a closer look.

Waldman then asked the students how many consecutive nights Hanukkah is observed each year.

"Eight," the children replied in unison.

Their answer impressed Waldman, who spent 45 minutes teaching the students about the origins and traditions of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that begins Tuesday at sunset and continues until Dec. 28.

"I am impressed the kids know so much about the holiday already," Waldman said after the children finished spinning dreidels at their desks.

"This holiday shouldn't be a mystery to them. It's important to teach children about different cultures and religions to promote tolerance."

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Waldman said she has for the past four years visited classrooms in Steamboat before the Jewish holiday to teach students about its significance. She started her lesson Thursday by reading a story recounting the Maccabean revolt and the meaning of the candles that are lit on a menorah each year. Waldman told the students sitting in a circle in front of her that Judaism is thousands of years old.

It was obvious the fact was news to some.

"Oh my gosh," one of the kids replied.

Students then got a chance to eat applesauce and latkes Waldman prepared earlier in the day.

"I think this is a great opportunity for the students," Leech said halfway through the lesson that replaced math Thursday. "It makes them understand that people are not all the same and that different is good."

Leech said she invites parents to come and share the history of various religious holidays every year.

Hanukkah party

Har Mishpacha, Steamboat's Jewish congregation, will host a Hanukkah party Dec. 23 at Bud Werner Memorial Library. Waldman said the event will feature a dinner, gift exchange, dreidel games and a crafts table for kids.

"These holidays and traditions really bring families together," Waldman said.

For more information or to RSVP for the party, call Paula Salky at 970-819-2170.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

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