Hanukkah food & gifts | Preschoolers launch gift drive for holiday

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Jewish preschoolers throughout the Bay Area are about to help bring Hanukkah cheer to those less fortunate through the holiday gift drive known as the Fifth Night Project.

The project aims to teach children the Jewish value of tzedakah (giving with intention) by forgoing their own gift on the fifth night of Hanukkah to provide one for a child in need.

Dylan Wintroub of Congregation Emanu-El Preschool places her gift in the donation bin in 2012.

The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, PJ Library, Parents Place and 17 Bay Area Jewish preschools are hosting the project.

Collection bins will be placed at participating preschools from Dec. 8 to 18.

In addition, classroom and take-home activities will help make the project and Hanukkah more meaningful for preschoolers and their families.

“Children learn best through action,” said Vivien Braly, PJ Library coordinator for the San Francisco area. “The Fifth Night project starts with a week of creativity in the classroom with storytelling, art and learning about tzedakah, and culminates in the gift collection. Preschoolers feel good about giving to others, and it makes the lessons in the classroom come to life.”

The project “is a great opportunity for preschool-age children to learn about the needs of others and provides them with a concrete experience to actualize” the value of tzedakah, added Adam Lowy, a teacher and Jewish resource specialist at Congregation Emanu-El Preschool in San Francisco. “The idea of giving righteously becomes a part of their identity and has the power to last a lifetime.”

The gifts will be donated to Parents Place, a program of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which serves San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Marin and Sonoma counties.

PJ Library provides free Jewish-themed children’s books to homes across North America. Programs in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco regions recently received funds for expansion to serve older children as well.

Suggested gifts for the Fifth Night Project include educational toys, games, books, and school and art supplies. Gifts should not be wrapped.

Launched in 2011, the Fifth Night Project has collected more than 2,000 gifts for distribution.

Collection bins will be placed at the following preschools:

Brotherhood Way Preschool, San Francisco

Chai Preschool, Foster City

Congregation Beth Ami, Santa Rosa

Congregation Beth Jacob, Redwood City

Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco

Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco

Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco

Gan Israel, San Rafael

Gan Noe, San Francisco

Ganon Early Childhood Education Center, San Mateo

Helen Diller Family Preschool, San Francisco

Leslie Family ECE Center, Palo Alto

Osher Marin JCC ECE Preschool, San Rafael

Osher Marin JCC ECE Preschool, Tiburon

Oshman Family JCC T’enna Preschool at Beth Am,  Los Altos Hills

Peninsula Temple Sholom, Burlingame

Rosenberg ECE Center, San Francisco