The Chanukah season at the Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ) was filled with celebration, and meaningful giving through a successful YCQ Chai Lifeline Toy Drive. In addition to a Chanukah concert and menorah cookie decorating, the preschoolers invited families to join us for a special Chanukah activity. They made dreidel men, Chanukah placemats, and clay dreidels. The children participated in a Chanukah sing-along, which included old favorites like “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “Sevivon, Sov Sov Sov,” with new songs like “Light Up the Night” and “I Wish I Were a Maccabi.” The kindergarten classes each performed an original Chanukah play. They said their parts flawlessly, sang songs, and wore the beautiful costumes they made. Each child took home a grab-and-go party bag filled with Chanukah goodies.

YCQ Elementary and Junior High School students were treated to a full Chanukah schedule. Younger grades started off each morning with Rabbi Ribalt’s candle lighting ceremony. Every day, children watched on Zoom in their classrooms as a new guest lit the Chanukah candles, followed by music videos and dancing. Older students were treated to a beautiful Hallel, followed by a yummy breakfast. Activities were jam-packed. Highlights include Kraftastic Chanukah, Chanukah Oneg, Doughnut Decorating, Doughnut Surprise, Silent DJ, Shlock Rock Concert, Azamra DJ Dancing, Build a Bear Workshop, The Live Game Show, and Better Than Your Grandma’s Cookie Decorating.

Thank you, Rabbi Ribalt, Ms. Shirley Pourad, Ms. Sara Shenas, and Mrs. Daniella Rafael for developing and organizing the Chanukah programming!

The YCQ Chai Lifeline Toy Drive was a true team effort created by the faculty and administration. Over 100 beautiful new toys were collected by the YCQ community. Mrs. Talia Hoffman, YCQ Teacher, reported: “After learning about adding and subtracting decimals and buying gifts on a budget, Grade 5 students were excited to apply the lessons to real life. They put a lot of thought into the gifts that they chose and were thrilled to see their purchases displayed on the YCQ Chai Lifeline Toy Drive tables. We are so proud of how enthusiastically our students embraced this chesed opportunity and are glad that we were able to spread joy over Chanukah.”

Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chief Executive Officer of Chai Lifeline, stated, “The encouragement that a gift of a Chanukah toy gives children in difficult situations is beyond imagination. The gift is not simply a toy, but a display of togetherness. The Yeshiva of Central Queens and all the organizations that collected Chanukah toys for the children of Chai Lifeline made 50,000 children happy, and they made 50,000 children part of the very families that donated. That’s the impact of Chai Lifeline toy distribution. It’s not about giving a gift – it’s about a show of love, concern, and support, from one family to another family.”