December 11, 1997
A Tour of Chanukah in
Tired of spinning the same old dreidels, eatingthe same old latkes, singing the same old tired songs year after yearon Chanukah? Well, the personal computer and the World Wide Webprovide a fresh approach to the holiday, combining ancient traditionswith new technologies. In effect, they offer a selective tour ofChanukah in Cyberspace.
First and foremost, there is a new game by thepeople who created "The Interactive Haggadah"; it's called "Who StoleHanukkah?" Using vivid clay animation and a Carmen Sandiego-likeapproach to teaching the history and traditions of the holiday, thistruly multimedia game will be most popular with the 6- to 10-year-oldset. A red-headed, trench-coated detective called "Nerli" (Hebrew for"my candle") guides players through clues in an effort to discoverwhich suspect pilfered the remaining oil from the rededication of thetemple. (When I played, Bomba, the cowardly orange elephant, was theculprit.) While younger children may have difficulty playing alone,this adult wasn't bored while testing the game (in fact, it took metwo guesses to figure out who took the pitcher of miraculousoil).
The game is neither a chronological retelling ofthe holiday nor a comprehensive one, but it is clever andentertaining. Each time the game is played, a different "suspect" isguilty. The CD-ROM works for both Windows and Macintosh systems andcan be played in English, Hebrew, Russian, French and Spanish,providing an extra challenge for students of these languages. Theonly drawback is that at $19.95 per disk (for individual users,organizations may buy in 20 packs to sell as fund-raisers), the gamemay have a limited, one-time use, but this can be remedied by sharingit or packing it away with the chanukkiah for use again next year.Call (800) 871-0694 or visit their web site (www.jemm.co.il) to order the game.
For many, Chanukah equals shopping. But instead ofvisiting The Gap online, or L.L. Bean, there are numerous sites forpurchasing Judaic items relating to the holiday. VirtualJerusalem, one of the best sites for anyof the Jewish holidays, offers shopping at www.virtual.co.il. Whether looking for books, chocolates or software, thisis a great place to browse (especially since it is open 24hours).
For America Online users, the Jewish Store(keyword: Jewish Store) is abound with gift ideas. Food baskets,Judaic items, music, calendars and even a gift subscription to yourfavorite Jewish publication (The Jewish Journal of Greater LosAngeles, of course) can be purchased here.
And if you simply must have something that lightsup like a you-know-what tree, then visit www.israelnow.com/gifts, where all electric menorah purchases come with a set oflight bulbs.
There seem to be as many latke recipes online asthere are latke cooks. From traditional to nouveau, the oil-drenchedto the low-fat, the recipes can be found on nearly every Chanukahsite (including AOL's Jewish.Community). The most comprehensive listI located (but searching yourself is part of the fun) was the