On the Eighth Day of Chanukah…

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Looking for unique, creative gift ideas to last the entire eight-day celebration? Check out this mouth-watering wish list.

 

Looking for Chanukah gifts, but not just any gifts? In search of unique, creative gift ideas, and enough of them to last the entire eight-day holiday celebration?

Relax, then, because you’ve come to the right place.

What better way to welcome the arrival of Chanukah — which begins the evening of Dec. 16 — than through the gift of music, for the duration of the holiday and beyond? Cantor Scott Borsky, a Jewish music maven from Cherry Hill, N.J., has provided a trio of recommendations for the holiday season that you can purchase at area music stores or at Amazon.com:

Eternal Echoes: Songs & Dances for the Soul (2013) is a collaboration between legendary classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and renowned Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot. The 10 songs on Eternal Echoes encompass a variety of musical moods. The mixture of Perlman’s famed classical technique and Helfgot’s magnificent voice gives nachas to the heart and soul.

Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs (2014) showcases one of the most important folk singers not only in the Jewish genre, but of all folk music. His three Yiddish recordings from the late 1950s and early 1960s have remained his most popular. This collection contains 26 wonderfully remastered songs from these three original albums, with notes by Bikel, who remains active at 90.

If you want a fun and surprisingly clever CD, then the Jewish Soul: The Heart and Soul of Jewish Music is for you. Filled with popular Jewish songs, this compilation features Jewish and non-Jewish recording artists who have achieved fame in the fields of rock, rhythm and blues, classical, opera and popular music. Jewish Soul includes songs by Tom Jones, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis and Eartha Kitt as well as Eddie Fisher, Al Jolson, Jan Peerce and Yaffa Yarkoni. Also included is an eight-page booklet with photos of the artists and lots of little-known information on the artists and the songs.

With the Jewish music from the first evening of Chanukah on the CD player, setting the mood, an ideal Day 2 gift for the children is My Simchastic Star: A Chanukah Friend ($29.95,mysimchasticstar.com), a new book and toy designed by Lauren Forman of Wayne. According to Forman, My Simchastic Star flies down from the sky into a child’s home each night of the holiday before sundown and hides. Prior to each evening’s activities, look for it. Built into the toy is a small pocket in which parents can place surprises such as dreidels, gelt or menorah candles. The accompanying book, written by Forman, tells the story of the star, which returns to the sky at the conclusion of Chanukah until the following year’s celebration.

Michelle Davis of Buckingham, Pa., and Amy Nadell of Dresher hold the key to the perfect Day 3 gift. The two are the sales representatives for The Giving Keys (starting at $25, thegivingkeys.com). The Giving Keys employs those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry — bracelets, bangles and pendants — from repurposed keys. Each key is unique and carries a message such as “hope,” “strength” or “courage.” When the wearer of the key encounters someone else who needs the message on the key, it is given away. The original owner then shares the story on the website.

“People are clearly impressed by the mission of taking people out of homelessness,” said Davis, who personally sells the keys at Riah Hair Studio in Furlong. “The popularity of this concept has skyrocketed in the last year or so.”

How about the gift of comfort on Day 4? From ThermaCELL comes a new model of heated shoe insoles to keep warm during the winter months. Proflex insoles ($179.99, thermacell.com) offer remote-controlled foot warming, as high as 111 degrees, keeping your feet toasty in your footwear through a built-in thermostat. Best of all, temperatures can be adjusted without having to remove your shoes.

Perhaps the reason gift baskets do not appear on more Chanukah wish lists is because most holiday gift baskets have a Christmas theme. For Day 5, enter Langhorne’s Celia Segal (prices vary, chocolateseal.com), whose specialties include tasty treats specifically for Chanukah.

“We use Chanukah colors, blue and white, some gold and silver,” Segal related. “Then we accent everything with Chanukah touches like dreidels and chocolate menorahs.”

Baskets — or trays, if you prefer — can include everything from chocolate-covered pretzels to salted caramels to dipped cashews and apricots.

Linda Blatchford of Elgin, Ill., has Chanukah bracelets (under $50, depending on material, linorstore.com) guaranteed to make the Day 6 exchange of gifts memorable. The bracelets feature lead-free and nickel-free charms, raised letters, royal blue beads and even a menorah or Star of David, if desired. Silver spacers add an unmistakable touch of elegance.

Make the seventh day of Chanukah a truly personal gift-giving experience with the help of Southampton resident Terri Siegel. Among the most popular items in her New Hope gift shop, Terri’s Gifts, are handbags decorated with original artwork provided by the customer (starting at $24, also available at: terrisgift­shoppe.com). Artwork — family photos, pets, celebrities, musical lyrics and virtually anything else — is laminated and sewn onto tote bags, shoulder bags or either of two varieties of wristlets.

Instead of closing out Chanukah with a ho-hum present such as socks or a gift card to a restaurant chain, why not splurge? In September 2015, Nick Carlino, an area specialty food purveyor, will lead a one-of-a-kind culinary tour of Abruzzo, Italy ($2,995 per person, contact him at: [email protected]).

The eight-day tour, which will be limited to 15 to 18 participants, will include such perks as cooking lessons from members of Carlino’s family in Abruzzo; time spent at the family home; visits to vineyards and lodging in a castle. Abruzzo is located approximately two hours east of Rome.

“If you like food, you’ll absolutely love this tour, even if you don’t cook,” Carlino predicted.

“I tell people that they’d never be able to do this tour on their own, that it’s a chance to visit the heart of Italy and see how everyday Italians live.

“How can you put a price tag on an opportunity like that?”

Matt Schuman is an area writer. This article originally appeared in the Jewish Exponent's Chanukah Gift Guide.

Shedding Light on a Cure

At the Philadelphia-based Pancreatic Cancer Research Enterprise America, they’re thinking outside the box — and inside as well.

Outside: Ways to help cure and treat pancreatic cancer as demonstrated by Dr. Jonathan Brody, director of surgical research and co-director of the Jefferson Pancreatic Biliary and Related Cancer Center.

Inside: Selling boxes of  Chanukah dripless candles to benefit the center’s efforts.

“The story of Chanukah is about triumphing against impossible odds,” says Linda Katz, PANCREA co-founder with Ferne Liez. “We hope these candles will create another ‘miracle,’ this time helping to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.” Candles can be purchased at: pancrea.org or Amazon. com (search: pancrea candles).

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