The eight days of Hanukkah provide an excellent opportunity for you and your congregational family to shine Yeshua’s light on the residents of an area nursing home. Here are some ideas for making this a memorable holiday season as your children learn to carry the love of Yeshua to their community. Check with a local nursing home to find out how you can fit your visits into their already established holiday programs. This type of outreach is best suited for children ages 6-12.
First Day: Allow your children and residents to become comfortable with each other by leading a Similarity Scavenger Hunt.” Provide the children with a list of things that they need to find in common with the residents, such as “find someone born in the same month,” or “find someone with the same favorite foods.” This will allow relationships to develop for the seven remaining visits. Close the time by lighting the first candle on the menorah and reading a children’s book about Hanukkah.
Second Day: Let the children distribute handmade gifts as Hanukkah music is played. Light the second candle on the menorah.
Third Day: Lead residents and children in singing traditional Hanukkah songs. Light the third candle.
Fourth Day: Have children distribute latkes they’ve help make at home, along with handmade cards (Psalm 62:1-2, Isaiah 60:1, Matthew 5:16 or John 8:12 might be good verses to include). Make sure the children ask the residents what Hanukkah was like for them while they were growing up, and why Hanukkah is still special to them. Light the fourth candle on the menorah.
Fifth Day: Prepare children to give a brief story of “what Hanukkah means to me.” Remind them to include reference to how God protects and leads His people, and how He gave us the true light in Yeshua. Light the fifth candle.
Sixth Day: Lead residents in a game of dreidel and provide sugar-free candies for gelt (those with arthritic hands can help keep score or be the “keepers” of the treats). Light the sixth candle.
Seventh Day: Play a game of Hanukkah Bingo. Bring cards with Hanukkah symbols such as latkes, dreidels, gelt, a jar of oil, candles, etc. Have the children hand out useful prizes, such as socks and pens. Light the seventh candle.
Eighth Day: Begin by lighting all eight candles on the menorah. Ask children to answer questions for the residents about the shammas (servant) candle, such as “What does shammas mean? Servant! Why do we call this candle the shammas? Because it serves the other candles by bringing them light! Who does this remind us of? Yeshua, who served us by bringing His light into the world. Did Yeshua celebrate Hanukkah? Yes, He celebrated it when our people called it the Feast of Dedication. And why do we celebrate it now? Because we remember that God loves us and protects His people.” Close this visit by singing “Rock of Ages” and allowing the children to individually greet and wish each of the residents a “Happy Hanukkah.”