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CHANUKAH FEATURE (4) Challenge of buying gifts for Chanukah is no miracle

NEW YORK, Dec. 4 (JTA) — Chanukah, a holiday of miracles, hope, latkes, doughnuts — and presents. The thought of gifts alone strikes fear in the hearts of people. But fear not, there are books, toys, CD-Roms and many other items for Chanukah gifts for all ages. For kids, there are a variety of Chanukah-themed items. A good place to start looking is a local party supply store, where one can find small toys, pencils or even Chanukah cups. Books, videos and computer games are gifts kids will use for years to come. * “The Rugrats Book of Chanukah,” by Sarah Willson, is based on the popular Nickelodeon cartoon characters. In this story, everyone is preparing for Chanukah, including Grandpa Boris, who is in a play with “The Meany of Chanukah.” When the babies learn someone is being mean to grandpa, they try to find a way to make meany be nice. A Rugrats Chanukah video is also available. * “The Chanukah Guest,” by Eric Kimmel. Bubba Brayna’s eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so when a bear shows up, she mistakenly believes he is the rabbi and gives the bear all of her latkes. This delightful story always captivates youngsters. * Rhyming words make “A Chanukah Story for Night Number Three,” by Dina Rosenfeld an enjoyable read. It is the third night of Chanukah and also Matisyohu Dov Ber Chaim Tzvi’s birthday. Matisyohu decides to celebrate by making the world’s biggest latke. But things don’t go quite as Matisyohu planned. Readers can follow all of Matisyohu’s antics in this book from Hachai Publishing. * For young computer enthusiasts, “Who Stole Hanukah,” a new CD- Rom game from JeMM Productions, a multimedia company based in Israel, will keep them busy for hours. When Professor Croak falls asleep, his most prized possession, the jar of oil that Judah Maccabee found in the Temple, is stolen. Your job is to find out who stole the jar. Created with assistance from the Joint Program for Jewish Education of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the game combines animation and claymation for an enchanting interactive mystery game. There are plenty of interactive activities in this game. Players can light a menorah and recite the blessings with Mademoiselle Menorah, or play Chanukah hangman with Bomba the warrior elephant and listen to the story of Chanukah. This game comes in five languages all of which are available on one CD-Rom. For more information call JeMM at (800) 871-0694. * On video is “Lamb Chop’s Chanukah Special.” Based on the PBS series “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along,” this video features songs, games and, of course, puppeteer Shari Lewis and her sidekicks; Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse. The hour-long video was originally broadcast on PBS in 1995. Of course, one should not forget the adults while shopping for gifts. Buying for adults is always challenging, but here are some ideas that will get everyone in the Chanukah mood. * For the person who loves wearing comfortable clothes, Happy Chanukah T-shirts are just the thing. The shirts are available in black, ash or white and come in a choice of dreidel or menorah designs. They are available in all sizes. The T-shirts, as well as a wide range of Chanukah merchandise, are available from Judaica, a mail-order company based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. * Prefer more formal attire? A silk Chanukah tie may be the answer. Made of 100 percent silk jacquard, the tie features a menorah pattern on a background of burgundy, blue or yellow. The ties are available through the Internet at the Jewish Community Online Store on America Online. * If someone collects waterglobes or music boxes, L’Chaim Judaica, an online-Judaica store, has the perfect gift — a musical waterball. Created by artist Shepsil Scheinberg, the waterball plays several Chanukah melodies. Inside the globe, there are three figurines gathered around a menorah. L’Chaim Judaica can be reached at their Web site at www.jewishmall.com * Doll collectors haven’t been forgotten either. The mail-order company Judaica, sells several different porcelain dolls. Each doll is dressed in a Chanukah outfit. Some dolls hold little boxes others hold dreidels. * A wide variety of Chanukah fabrics, laces and craft kits are available from the Ayshes Chayil Collection, a catalog of Jewish needlework supplies. Based in Denver, the owners of the company donate a portion of every order to charity. * Hershey’s makes a giant happy Chanukah chocolate greeting card. The 2-pound milk chocolate card measures 9 1/4 inches-by-9 1/4 inches. It is available by mail order from Hershey’s in Lancaster, Pa. * A salt-and-pepper shaker set in the shape of a dreidel is the perfect gift for the hostess of a Chanukah party. The blue and white dreidel shakers would complement a table filled with latkes. The set is available through the Internet at the Jewish Community Online Store on AOL. * Now, for the person who has everything, there is a 9-foot menorah. The aluminum menorah is designed for either indoor or outdoor use. It is available from Alum-in-8 in Morristown, N.J. Lastly, since the best gift of all is time spent together, here are a few things families can do together. * At Virtual Jerusalem’s Chanukah Web site, there are more than 50 pages of Chanukah games, stories and videos. * A great place to visit on Chanukah is the Chabad-Lubavitch Dreidel House. The fun begins after walking through the door and being greeted by Judah Maccabee. There are plenty of activities inside the house including craft projects for the kids. There are dreidel houses across the country. Call the local Chabad-Lubavitch emissary for information. * And finally, the Odyssey cable channel will air “Professor Pellah’s Place: A Chanukah Adventure” and “Benjamin and the Miracle of Hanukkah,” on Sunday, Dec. 28. Check local listings for more information.

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