Boulder Jewish Day School is using the theme of Chanukah as a great opportunity to teach our children the values of tikkun olam and tzedakah, by partnering in Reading Village's "Light Up Literacy" project.

Chanukah Gelt = A Lesson in Giving

Chanukah is around the corner and we all are trying to figure out how much Gelt (money in Yiddish) should we give to – or spend on – our children and grandchildren. I would like to share with you an educational idea using the Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (acts of justice), a little gelt, and the idea that giving out Gelt recalls a high point of Jewish freedom.

At the Boulder Jewish Day School (BJDS), we are using the theme of Chanukah as a great opportunity to teach our children those values. We give our children positive reinforcement for exemplary behavior, such as diligence in their studies and acts of charity/ Tzedakah. This year, Boulder Jewish Day School is joining Stephen S Wise Temple in Los Angeles and the Jewish Community of Guatemala in supporting Reading Village’s children’s literacy work in Guatemala. Because this initiative is connected with Chanukah it is being called, “Light Up Literacy.”

Why this project? Several reasons:  first, we have a personal connection, as the father of one of our recent graduates is from Guatemala. Second, because Reading Village is located here in Boulder. Third, Reading Village’s “Light Up Literacy” program is about spreading the light of freedom, which is truly what Chanukah is about. Fourth, and most importantly, because as a school and community we teach our children that tikkun olam and tzedakah are our responsibility – wherever there is need.

“The concept of Light Up Literacy is that families would set aside some gelt one night of Hanukkah to support reading in a country where there are few books and where the literacy rate in many rural communities is less than 50%.  And on that night, parents would read stories to their children to celebrate a freedom and capacity that we might otherwise take for granted.”   – Linda Smith, Reading Village founder

PB120034We are blessed to have great resources in our community for educating our children. Did you know that Chanukah has the same three-letter root word as the Hebrew word for education (chinuch)? This is the time of year, as we think about Chanukah and freedom, when we also must think about other children throughout the world who don’t have the same educational resources or opportunities.

The Shulchan Aruch’s (Code of Jewish Law) author, Rabbi Josef Caro, includes counting money as an example of what the Chanukiyah (Menorah) lights cannot be used for.  In our tradition, giving out Chanukah money was a way to remember this prohibition. With that in mind, this Chanukah we are asking each of our students to contribute some of the Chanukah Gelt he or she receives to enable Reading Village to purchase books for children in Guatemala – to bring the light to another child’s life.

We hope you’ll read a book to your children and celebrate having the resources and capacity to enjoy the love of reading. And, we invite your family to get involved in this project with us, and ask you to donate “1 Night of Chanukah Gelt” to the Reading Village Program, so that together we can light up more lives.

Donations can be sent to BJDS,7415 Lookout Road, Longmont, CO 80503 (please include “For Reading Village” on your donation). For more information on Reading Village, see  Here’s a short video about “Light Up Literacy” and the work of Reading Village. Enjoy and Happy Chanukah!

Donations to Boulder Jewish Day School may be eligible to receive a 50% tax credit through the State of Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit.  Check the Colorado Department of Revenue for more info.

Boulder Jewish Day School (BJDS) is an independent accredited community day school serving Boulder, Broomfield, Longmont and the North Metro Denver area. The school offers an Early Childhood Program (2.5 to 5 years) as well as an Elementary program – Kindergarten though Fifth Grade –and after-school programs too. BJDS provides a strong academic curriculum, bilingual programs, Judaic studies, art, music and physical education. BJDS features a low-student to teacher ratio, an active parent volunteer community, and a warm pluralistic environment that welcomes students and families from all backgrounds. BJDS is dedicated to growing the next generation of community leaders. Financial aid is available.  For more information about BJDS or to schedule a tour, please contact us at 303.449.5569 or

About Shoshi Bilavsky

I was born in Israel. I have a great Family. I have been working in Jewish education since 1993. I love being a Jewish educator. I love my community.

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  1. Thanks Boulder Jewish Day School! I am just back from Guatemala and very inspired by the changes taking place in the community where Reading Village works, and I am inspired by you!

    Linda Smith