As the buzz of festive Chanukah music attracted more and more shoppers to the children's floor of the Macy's flagship department store on 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday, children from all over the tri-state area enjoyed a Chanukah wonderland provided by Chabad's Jewish Children's Museum in Brooklyn, N.Y.

A project of Tzivos Hashem, the Chabad-Lubavitch children's organization, the Jewish Children's Museum has won awards for its dedication to promoting religious tolerance and educating children of all backgrounds about Jewish culture.

Hundreds of shoppers joined Judah the Maccabee, the Chanukah hero who led the victory over the Greek army more than 2,000 years ago, in a demonstration of an actual olive press and a lively retelling of the miracle of the eight-day holiday: When the Jewish people rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, they found just one jar of pure oil with which to light the menorah. It miraculously lasted for eight days, enough time to produce more oil.

"We're going to do in fifteen minutes what took them eight days!" Judah – played by a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi – told the spellbound audience of children while holding a sack of olives.

Each one took turns pulling the lever of the wooden press and squeezing drops of oil, a task that proved to be quite an exercise. After the olives were pressed to their limit, the children helped Judah collect the oil and place it in a spinning bowl that separated the oil from its particulates.

"Hold your breath," said Judah, while the hum of the centrifuge kept everyone in suspense.

The children then helped Judah light a Chanukah menorah with the freshly squeezed oil.

Afterwards, the young shoppers flocked with their parents and grandparents to arts and crafts tables to make Chanukah images out of plastic jewels.

Spreading the Light

Judah the Maccabee teaches a child how to light the Chanukah menorah at a display at the Macy’s flagship department store on Manhattan’s 34th Street.
Judah the Maccabee teaches a child how to light the Chanukah menorah at a display at the Macy’s flagship department store on Manhattan’s 34th Street.
Long Island native Joyce Huang was shopping with her 4-year-old daughter, Karen, when she noticed a giant candelabra amidst the children's winter-season clothing. When she realized it was a Jewish holiday event, she stalled their shopping trip.

"It's very important that my daughter grows up to respect other cultures," said the mother.

As for Karen, she was overjoyed at being chosen to light the menorah.

Roxane Zrihen brought her two daughters to Macy's specifically for the event.

"It's wonderful that Macy's is concerned with involving themselves in something Chanukah-related," she said. "It's nice when such a powerful store appreciates diversity in such a public way."

All of the children left the department store with dreidels and chocolate coins.

For his part, Judah the Maccabee summed up the goal of the workshop.

"Today was all about spreading tolerance and understanding," he said. "The Festival of Lights is all about spreading the light within every single one of us."