Toy shopping for Jewish children made easy

Do you want to look beyond the shelves of Target and Toys “R” Us to find Jewish-themed toys, books and games for children this Chanukah?

The National Jewish Outreach Program has released the “Chanukah Gift Guide 2005,” a list of shopping hotspots on the Web. The guide, available at, showcases gifts that strive to connect children with Jewish culture, identity and religion.

“Each year, parents challenge themselves to share the beauty and history of an important Jewish holiday — Chanukah — amidst the lights and mass-marketed Christmas everywhere a child looks,” said Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, who founded NJOP in 1987 to address critical issues of assimilation.

“This year, especially with Chanukah beginning on Dec. 25, we wanted to help parents make Chanukah very special and meaningful for their children.”

The following is a sample of reviews from the NJOP gift guide. Products were evaluated by a panel of parents and experts in the fields of Jewish education, general education and child development:

Gali Girls ( Gali Girls, which bear resemblance to the very popular American Girl dolls, are the first Jewish dolls of their kind, offering girls an opportunity to incorporate positive Jewish values into their doll play. (ages 4-11)

“Kosher By Design: Kids in the Kitchen” ( With more than 80 kid-friendly recipes and food photography to make any mouth water, this cookbook works for kids and parents. (ages 7+)

KidKraft Shabbat Wooden Play Set ( Two candlesticks, a Kiddush cup, two challahs and a challah knife provide kids with everything they need to share in the Shabbat traditions. Storage bag included. (ages 2+)

Mitzvah Mobile ( The only one of its kind, the Mitzvah Mobile introduces babies to Jewish imagery and song at an early age. (ages 3 months+)

A Kindness a Day Desk Calendar ( Simple design but meaningful content … each day on the calendar is assigned a “kindness” suggestion coupled with a source of inspiration from Jewish texts. (ages 12+)

Roll ‘N’ See ( Jewish holiday imagery, Hebrew letters with pictures, brightly colored beads and lightweight durable plastic make this a very suitable gift for the little ones on your list. (ages 18 months+)

Some of NJOP’s favorite video and music selections this year include “The Chanukah on Planet Matzah Ball” video (ages 3 and up) and the “Cha Cha Chanukah” music CD (both available at

For older children, try music by Chassidic reggae singer Matisyahu ( and the “Virtual Shabbat” interactive CD available at (