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As Hanukkah begins, menorah building in Deerfield connects the generations



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Making menorahs for Hanukkah on Dec. 2, 2018, are (from left) Sophie Federman, Steve Federman, Jessica Federman and Matthew Federman, all of Deerfield. (Steve Sadin/Pioneer Press) 

For three generations, members of the Stolman family of Deerfield and Buffalo Grove have been making menorahs.


When current Deerfield resident Kenneth Stolman was young, he made the nine-branch candelabra with his father, David Stolman of Buffalo Grove, using nuts bought from a hardware store to affix the candles to the platform.

Now, Kenneth Stolman sits with his children, preschooler Brooke Stolman and kindergartner Ari Stolman, helping them make their own menorahs for Hanukkah.


The Stolmans were among approximately 350 North Shore residents participating in a menorah making event Dec. 2 at Home Depot in Deerfield.

Children had the opportunity to light the first candle the same day they built their menorah to begin the celebration of the eight-day festival designed to bring more light into the world, according to Esther Greenspan, youth director of Lubavitch Chabad of Northbrook.


Sophie Federman, a second-grader from Deerfield, was one of the children excited to use her own menorah to celebrate.


“It’s special because I made it,” Federman said


Lubavitch Chabad of Northbrook and Chabad of Deerfield sponsored the event. The chabad has held the event at Home Depot since 2011, according to Rabbi Shua Greenspan, Esther’s husband and a rabbi at the Northbrook congregation.


Esther Greenspan said one candle is lit the first night with one more at each sundown of the holiday. Part of the purpose of lighting the menorah is to add light to the world. The act is particularly important this year because of the shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue Oct. 27 where 11 people were killed.


“You bring light into your home, into your heart and the world at large,” Esther Greenspan said. “There is a special significance this year because of what happened in Pittsburgh. Our response to hate is love, to bring light into the world.”


Shua Greenspan said gift giving is also part of Hanukkah though that is more of a modern American tradition. He said the older custom is giving youngsters Hanukkah gelt. Gelt is a Yiddish word for money. He said it creates a teachable moment.


“They have to make a choice how they’re going to spend it,” Shua Greenspan said. “Are they going to give it to charity or are they going to spend it? Are they going to get a gift? They could buy two gifts, one for themselves and one for someone in need.”

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Parents and children gather around a table to make menorahs for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah in Deerfield. (Steve Sadin/Pioneer Press) 

For Kenneth Stolman, making menorahs with his children as he did himself with his parents is a way to teach Jewish tradition to the next generation.

“It was very special when I did it with my parents and now I’m doing it with Ari and Brooke,” Kenneth Stolman said. “It’s a great way to teach l’dor v’dor,” he added using the Hebrew phrase meaning from generation to generation.

David Stolman said when he started making menorahs with his children, it was not done at places like Home Depot with assembled kits. He said it was something important in the lives of his family.

“Now I get to see my grandchildren doing it,” David Stolman said.

Teaching tradition to her children was a part of the reason Roz Mokhtarian of Glenview brought her children to the event. She said it was a way to make an enjoyable craft experience a learning opportunity.

David Telisman of Northbrook and his wife, Amy Telisman, said their children, sixth grader Evan Telisman and Jake Telisman, who is in fifth grade, like crafts. They are now developing a collection of handmade menorahs. They were at the event last year.

“Last year it was a lot of fun so we brought them again,” David Telisman said.

Holiday events with family was one of the reasons Jonathan Birnberg and Brad Helfand, both of Highland Park brought their children, Oak Terrace kindergartner Micah Birnberg and Indian Trail Elementary School kindergartner Scarlett Helfand, to make menorahs.

“I really like being with family,” Scarlett Helfand said.