Its in the cards

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minneapolis | This past spring Joy Gordon introduced her Passover Story Cards. Now she’s bringing us a new set of compelling cards to enhance another Jewish holiday — Chanukah.

While researching Chanukah for the cards, Gordon realized “what a powerful holiday it is. I was glad that I chose it because when you look beneath the surface, it’s all about bringing the light and it’s all about who we are as a people, to be the light unto the nations.”

Gordon hopes to be brightening Jewish homes during the Festival of Light with her latest creation, Hanukkah Story Cards, which uses the same motif as the Passover cards set. The oversized durable cards bear on one side a colorful illustration by artist Lucy Rose Fischer and on the other narrative text rich with religious significance and history to enlighten participants on the holiday. Every set consists of a Leader’s Guide, Educator’s Guide, eight Idea Cards (one for each night), four Historical Figure Cards (Mattathias, Judah Maccabee, Judith and Antiochus) and four Instruction Cards.

The cards “present enough information so that a person feels they have a grasp on the concept, then gently help them to relate it to their own lives and then to help them dialogue with others for interaction,” Gordon explains.

The positive response Gordon received from those who used her Passover cards helped inspire her to create the Chanukah story cards, but the idea of bringing families together was also instrumental in her decision to make the new deck. Gordon sees the possibility for quality time when the family sits down for each night of Chanukah with a specific card to help celebrate the holiday.

“I can just picture eight consecutive nights of a family sitting together for a half an hour, talking together, sharing about the holiday. I think that will be very illuminating,” Gordon comments, adding that the Chanukah cards can be especially helpful for interfaith families.

It’s not just the family she aims to touch with her cards, though. Gordon believes the cards can make an impact in classrooms, nursing homes and at community programs.

She took special care to write the cards “in a very clear way, so that it’s applicable to everyone from say, schoolchildren up to senior citizens.

“They can be used with children with varying abilities because the artwork itself is very powerful. They’re tactile, visual; you can get up and move around with them, so the medium is applicable to many different types of learners and users.”

The cards bring new light to prayers, the significance of numbers in Judaism, the tradition of the dreidel and gelt, religious freedom, the story of Chanukah — along with highlights on major players in the story — as well as the importance of tikkun olam in Jewish life.

Besides loving the art of storytelling, Gordon has a master’s degree in education and has taught French in junior high and high school. She has spent most of her life developing educational programs, such as those she created on the subjects of Israel and Judaic learning for the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.

“I’ve been involved in education all my life and I understand a lot of the concepts and use a lot of what I know about teaching to put into the cards,’ she says.

As when she made the Passover cards, Gordon also consulted rabbis, teachers, friends and family when creating the Chanukah cards.

Gordon also looked to her own observation and knowledge of Judaism — she is a student of Kabbalah — the guidance to create a fun, educational and spiritual way to enliven the celebration of Chanukah.

Hanukkah Story Cards cost $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Information: (763) 559-7029 or