Children around the world are being “dared” this Chanukah to express themselves through mitzvahs.

“Dare Yourself: The Maccabee Challenge”—8 Nights, 8 Dares, 8 Winners—is a joint project of CKids, Tzivos Hashem and JewishKids.org.

The program is meant to empower Jewish children to celebrate Chanukah in his or her own unique way, without pressure from rabbis or adults, according to Rabbi Zalman Loewenthal, director of CKids, an international club for Jewish children ages 3 to 12, inspired by the teachings and vision of the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

This is the inaugural year of the campaign, which evolved from other programs in Chabad’s Kids magazine encouraging children to do mitzvah missions for various Jewish holidays.

“The idea evolved, and we’ve taken the missions to a new level,” explains Loewenthal. “These missions will challenge more than 100,000 Jewish children worldwide to complete eight Chanukah missions and take on the ‘Maccabee Dare,’ which is all about setting a good example for others in the weeks following Chanukah.”

These “dares” are reaching children who speak English, Spanish, French and German on six continents, he adds.

For Jewish children of all backgrounds, other “dares” include, for example, building a tzedakah (charity) box from a shoe box, playing the dreidel game with age-appropriate questions, doing a Chanukah-themed bedroom makeover, making latkes and building a menorah.

“There’s an educational process to the program, and it’s fun,” says the rabbi.

On the website, children can upload pictures of themselves doing the “dares,” and check off which ones they have completed for a chance to win tickets toward prizes that include a scooter, toy-store gift card and technology-based items.

‘Behave as Proud Jews’

Rabbi Bentzy and Devorah Stolik, co-directors of Chabad of Olney in Maryland, are taking on the program with their 17 Hebrew-school students.

“The kids were thrilled and very excited about doing it,” she reports. “They thought it was very cool to be part of something worldwide—that kids like them from all over would be participating. And the parents, too, enjoyed the fact that they could turn a fun dare for their children into something Jewish, and be proud of it.”

Rabbi Bentzy and Devorah Stolik, co-directors of Chabad of Olney in Maryland, are taking on the program with their 17 Hebrew-school students.
Rabbi Bentzy and Devorah Stolik, co-directors of Chabad of Olney in Maryland, are taking on the program with their 17 Hebrew-school students.

In addition to the online prizes available to participants, the Stoliks offered their own incentives for participating.

Esther Horowitz, director of the Hebrew school at Chabad of Plano & Collin County in Texas, introduced the program this past Sunday to the 70 students there. She showed them a video about it and the colorful pullout from Kids magazine, as well as emailed the program link to parents in a recent Hebrew-school newsletter.

Esther Horowitz, director of the Hebrew school at Chabad of Plano & Collin County in Texas
Esther Horowitz, director of the Hebrew school at Chabad of Plano & Collin County in Texas

“They were pretty wowed,” she says. “They sound like they all want to be a part of it.”

She adds that her own five children, ages 2 to 11, got so excited about the whole idea that they are participating, too.

The new program is based on a directive from the Rebbe for “all Jewish children to be daring like the Maccabees and behave as proud Jews, even while living among other nations.”

As Loewenthal synopsizes: “As part of ‘Dare Yourself,’ the children will be doing just that—discovering the meaning of Chanukah and feeling what it really means to be in G‑d’s army, identifying themselves with the Maccabees of over 2,000 years ago.”

For more information, visit the ‘Dare Yourself’ page at JewishKids.org