Got Lumber? Build Menorah: Home Depot Partners With Chabad In DIY Chanukah Activity 

by Yehuda Sugar - St Louis, MO

DECEMBER 18, 2011



( Chanukah begins Tuesday evening, December 20, but visitors to Home Depot’s St. Louis store got an early start on the Festival of Lights last Sunday building their own, usable, take-home wood menorahs. 

Now in its fourth year, the Home Depot Menorah Workshop attracted a diverse crowd of 400 children and adults. Children hammered, painted and decorated their own, eight-branch 12x8 menorah using lumber donated and cut to size by Home Depot. Lively Chanukah music, hot latkes, Mr. Dreidel and the now-famous Chabad Chanukah olive-press demonstration, packed an engaging, educational Chanukah experience for these young do-it-yourselfers and their parents.

St. Louis Chabad Rabbi Levi Landa, who pioneered the first Home Depot event in America in 2008 based on a similar event first held by Chabad of  Thornhill,Ontario, said the idea was a no-brainer.    

“It really appeals to certain people who are not necessarily going to walk into a shul for a pre-holiday event.” 

When he started out four years ago, 125 turned out. At current attendance levels, the workshop required a 100-foot work table, a giant aisle in the store, and 6-10 Home Depot employees to help. Landa’s facebook page was filled with glowing reviews by parents who posted pictures of their children busily building their Chanukah menorahs.  

One of them was from Rachael Green Smith, 39, who has attended the last several workshops with her husband, Brian, and 3-year-old daughter, Shayna who now owns three wood menorahs. 

“We had a fantastic time! Thank you so much Chabad, Rabbi Landa and Rivka! We love making this part of our annual Chanukah celebration!” 

Chabad is partnering with Home Depot stores in other locations in the U.S. and Canada, among them Vancouver, Dallas, Northbrook, IL, Phoenix, Halfmoon, NY, Saratoga Springs, NY, Whitehall, PA and West Roxbury, MA.    

According to Home Depot assistant manager Andy Hodge at the St. Louis store, the Menorah Workshop is its biggest and most well attended community event of the year in a series of activities the store uses to give back to the community. 

“This event has a particularly festive atmosphere, with the added attractions of music and food.” It gives the children and their families, he said, “a really good time.” 

Rabbi Meir Moscowitz, who hosted the first Chicago area Home Depot workshop on Dec. 18 near his Northbrook Chabad House, said his phone and e-mails buzzed with responses to his first announcement. They included one from a grandparent he had never met brimming with excitement at the prospect of bringing her grandchild. He counted several hundred participants.    

“As we are all about education, this was a great opportunity to teach children about Chanukah and specifically about menorahs in a fun and hands-on way,” Moscowitz said. 

The Home-Depot Menorah Workshop follows a long tradition of creative holiday awareness outreach activities that include challah baking teach-ins at Trader Joe’s food stores,  story times at Barnes and Noble and Borders, and Chabad’s matzah baking demonstrations—most recently at the local Whole Foods store.

The idea, especially Chanukah time when the holiday can get lost amid the other seasonal displays that dominate around this time of year, is to raise awareness and enthusiasm among Jewish people for the joy and the significance of Chanukah.

“We can’t do that if we stay at home,” chuckles Rabbi Moscowitz.