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Hanukkah display a teaching moment

Fred Lepkin has put a Hanukkah display on his Walton Road home to educate the public about the stories behind the Hannukiah and dreidl. - Martin van den Hemel photo
Fred Lepkin has put a Hanukkah display on his Walton Road home to educate the public about the stories behind the Hannukiah and dreidl.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

Inside each room in Fred Lepkin’s house on Walton Road, virtually every object hanging on the wall or sitting on a table has a story attached to it.

So the former long-time Burnaby South Secondary School teacher simply couldn’t resist the temptation to add a story to his front lawn too.

While others have adorned their yards with Christmas lights, reindeers and Santas in keeping with the season, Lepkin’s Jewish roots are on display in the form of a pair of didactics—informational boards—a nine-branched Hannukiah, and a dreidl or spinning top, during the eight-day Jewish celebration known as Hanukkah.

Many recognize the menorah and dreidl, but fewer know the stories behind them.

And when Canada Post issued a special stamp, one with the menorah, the other with dreidls, neither were accompanied by any information about their stories.

Lepkin said this teaching moment was lost.

“As a teacher, I didn’t want that,” he said.

Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew, and commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in the second century B.C. when the Jews rose up against their Greek/Syrian oppressors. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts.

The dreidl, or four-sided spinning top, is played with during Hanukkah and bears a Hebrew letter on each side, forming an acronym for “a great miracle happened there.”

Lepkin hopes that his display—created thanks to help from Ric Demchuk, Wayne Smutylo and Melinda, and Nigel and T.K.Y. Nursery—will help in some small way.

At the very least, it’s another conversation piece at a home that abounds with them.

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