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New Chanukah cards tell old story

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 7 (JTA) — This past spring, Joy Gordon introduced her Passover story cards. Now she’s introducing a new set of compelling cards for another Jewish holiday — Chanukah. Gordon says that she realized what a powerful holiday Chanukah was while doing the research for her Chanukah cards. “I was glad that I chose it because when you look beneath the surface, it’s all about bringing the light and it’s all about who we are as a people, to be the light unto the nations,” she says. Gordon will be brightening Jewish homes during the holiday with her cards, which use the same motif as the Passover cards set: Oversized durable cards bear colorful illustrations by artist Lucy Rose Fischer on one side, and a narrative text rich with religious significance and history is on the other side. Every set consists of a leader’s guide, an educator’s guide, eight “idea cards” for each night of the holiday, four historical-figure cards — on Mattathias, Judah Maccabee, Judith and Antiochus — and four instruction cards. The instructional cards “present enough information so that a person feels they have a grasp on the concept, then gently help them to relate it to their own lives, and then to help them dialogue with others for interaction,” Gordon explains. The positive response Gordon received from those who used her Passover cards helped inspire her to create the Chanukah story cards, she says, but the idea of bringing families together was also instrumental in her decision to make the new deck. Gordon says she sees the possibility for quality family time when the family sits down for the nights of Chanukah with their specified card for each day. “I can just picture eight consecutive nights of a family sitting together for a half an hour, talking together, sharing about the holiday. I think that will be very illuminating,” Gordon says. The cards can be especially helpful to interfaith families celebrating the holiday, she adds. It’s not just the family she aims to touch with her cards, however. Gordon also believes the cards can have an impact in classrooms, nursing homes and at community programs. “I write them particularly in a multileveled way, so that they speak to adults, so they speak to children,” Gordon says. “They can be used with children with varying abilities because the artwork itself is very powerful. They’re tactile, visual: You can get up and move around with them, so the medium is applicable to many different types of learners and users.” Gordon took special care to write the cards “in a very clear way, so that it’s applicable to everyone from say, school children up to senior citizens,” she says. The cards bring new light to prayers, the significance of numbers in Judaism, the tradition of the dreidel and gelt, religious freedom, the story of Chanukah — along with highlights on major players in the story — as well as the importance of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, in Jewish life. Besides loving the art of storytelling, Gordon has a master’s degree in education and has taught French in junior high and high school. She has spent most of her life developing educational programs, such as those she created on the subjects of Israel and Jewish learning for the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. “I’ve been involved in education all my life and I understand a lot of the concepts and use a lot of what I know about teaching to put into the cards,” she says. Gordon consulted rabbis, teachers, friends and family when creating the Chanukah cards. Gordon also looked to her own observance and knowledge of Judaism to create a fun, educational and spiritual way to enliven the celebration of Chanukah.Each set of cards costs $19.95 plus shipping and handling. For information or to purchase a set, call Joy Gordon at (763) 559-7029 or visit: