UPDATED: 12/16/19 at 10:30 p.m.
Every Chanukah, Chabad Tysons Jewish Center has a wonderland for children to celebrate the holiday.
There are arts and crafts, a gelt drop, sufganiyot and several hands-on demonstrations.
“Whoever comes leaves with something in their hands,” said Rabbi Chessy Deitsch.
He leads an olive oil press demonstration, where he shows the children how to squeeze olives and get oil to light a menorah.
Sometimes he gets enough for one menorah branch, sometimes enough for three.
“We actually light [the menorah] with the kids there so they actually see from beginning to end how it’s made,” Deitsch said.
The children also make the wicks, which are burned in the oil harvested from the olives at each night’s menorah lighting.
This is something Deitsch said is a novel experience for the children. “Even if you light it [with oil] … most of the time you buy it from the store.”
Deitsch said he has taken his olive oil press to schools and synagogues to do demonstrations as well. Some years, the Wonderland has had a candle-making craft with wax.
For the first time this year, there will also be a Chanukah master chef class — latke edition. On Dec. 29, kids ages 7 through 15 can create their own latkes by mixing available ingredients, like potatoes, sweet potatoes and zucchinis.
“We have graters and frying pans, obviously adult supervision, but we allow the kids to give their own twist,” Deitsch said. “It’s a fun spin for them.”
Afterward, the parents and children will taste all the varieties of latkes.
He also arranged for classes called “Fight Like a Maccabee” — the first was a krav maga class on Dec. 25, but the second will be a martial arts class on Dec. 29.
Local donors help fund the wonderland, Deitsch said, which is free to all guests. People can also leave donations.
The wonderland is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day and is good for the whole family, Deitsch said. There is also a small gift shop.
What does Deitsch enjoy most about the wonderland each year?
“Having the children come in, the smiles on their faces,” he said. “We live in Virginia and many people celebrate other holidays and the kids want to feel they’re celebrating
their holidays and when it comes to the wonderland, they really are proud to
He added, “Sharing the joy of Chanukah! That’s really what it’s about.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Rabbi Chessy Deitsch as Rabbi Levi Deitsch, his late brother.