This Chanukah the Olive Oil Pressing Workshop was on the road squeezing olives into Shemen Zayis Zoch, pure olive oil.
Originally innovated by Rabbi Yisroel Engel of Denver, Colorado, the idea of producing olive oil as an educational tool took off when the Tzivos Hashem Crafts Workshops developed it as a hands-on workshop. This year, teams of Olive Pressing Workshops traveled to scores of diverse locations from Boston to Lakewood helping thousands of children make Shemen Zayis Zoch and build their own Chanukah Menorahs to take home.
Part history lesson, part science laboratory, this fascinating workshop is a stimulating experience to excite young minds of all backgrounds and ages about Chanukah.
– What did the original Menorah really look like in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem ?
– How was it lit? What really is Shemen Zayit Zach?
– Is it really just the first drop that comes form the olive?
– How did the Maccabees of old make olive oil for the Golden Menorah?
The hands-on workshop provided the answers to these questions. With the help of participants, the process the Maccabees used to refine Olive Oil for the Menorah in the Chanukah story. Students sort and hand-press fresh olives in an old fashioned olive press made of wood and cast iron, then decant the olive juice with a modern centrifuge to quickly extract the pure olive oil – authentic “Shemen Zayit Zach. As the olive oil is refined, the students hand spin wicks out of cotton and then light the Chanukah Menorah with the resulting oil.
After the Olive Oil workshop, students construct their own beautiful Chanukiah to take home with the hardwood Chanukah Menorah kit. This kit makes a beautiful 14 inch Menorah out of solid hardwood with metal cups for oil decanters or candles. The kit is easy to assemble with no sawing, no glue, no nails, or experience required. All tools and materials are provided in the workshop and with this user-friendly kit, everyone is going to make a masterpiece, guaranteed!
“A hands-on experience is the best way to communicate the learning experience to children,” says Rabbi Michoel Albukerk, the director of the Tzivos Hashem Crafts Workshops. “The popularity of the Olive Pressing Workshops at hundreds of Chabad Houses is evidence of the tactile approach.”
“We don’t give the kids a chance to show what they can do. Once they realize how they themselves can do complicated things like making olive oil themselves with this complicated process, they discover their own Jewish confidence.” commented Levi Hertzel, an expert craftsman and Tzivos Hashem educator.
Shluchim who would like to conduct this Workshop and others like it can contact Tzivos Hashem Crafts Workshops at JewishChildren.com.