Rica Allam, who lives in Stuttgart, Germany, loves celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, which begins tonight. There’s just one problem: It is very hard to find a menorah in her hometown.
So she learned to make one herself.
Ms. Allam, a university adviser and mother of two, is one of only about 118,000 people living in Germany today who identify as Jewish. After the birth of her second child, she started making educational videos on TikTok explaining Jewish life to other Germans. Her posts, which have drawn more than 36,000 followers, include a guide to crafting D.I.Y. menorahs, with the help of her sons, Leor and Samuel.
Ms. Allam, whose family comes from the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, did not grow up religious but had something of an awakening during her junior year of high school, when she studied in Rhode Island as an exchange student. “I’d never met so many Jewish people in life,” Ms. Allam recalled.
It’s been hard for her to find that kind of community in Germany, where she often feels “like a unicorn for being Jewish,” she said. But she doesn’t want her children, ages 4 and 1, to “just ignore Jewish holidays and Jewish background.”
Creativity has provided a solution.
“I always try to make it fun with Judaism, because we have a lot of rules,” Ms. Allam said.
To make a menorah like Ms. Allam’s, you’ll need a wooden board for the base; nine small wooden blocks (one taller than the rest); paint (acrylic for the board and spray paint for the blocks); nine thimbles; stick-on letters to spell out “Hanukkah” (or “Chanukah,” “Hannuka,” etc., depending on your preferred transliteration) and your child’s name, if you’d like; a hot glue gun; wood glue; and your Hanukkah candles (and a lighter).
Step 1: Paint the board with acrylic paint and let it dry.
Step 2: Spray paint the nine wooden blocks. Wood-glue them together in a row, with the tallest block on the end, and then attach them to the board with the wood glue.
Step 3: Affix the letters of “Hanukkah” to the fronts of the eight smaller wooden blocks, one letter per cube. If you also got letters for a name, stick those to the board, in front of the line of blocks.
Step 4: Attach the thimbles to the tops of each of the nine blocks using the hot glue gun.
Step 5: Insert candles into the thimbles; the largest block should be reserved for the “shamash,” or helper candle, which you use to light the rest. Light the candles and celebrate!