SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Sixth and seventh graders at Congregation Beth Israel’s Religious School in Scotch Plains created and staffed “Mitzvah Booths” to raise money for several charities at the synagogue's annual Hanukkah party on Sunday, Dec.18. 

The students collected more than $750 by running games and craft activities in support of their chosen charities, which included: the Linden and South Jersey Animal Shelters; Jewish National Fund (JNF), No Kid Hungry; World Literacy Foundation; Camp Lee Mar, a camp for children with special needs; cancer-fighting organizations; a fund for homeless female veterans; an anti-bullying campaign; and even a fund to save narwhals.Seventh graders made chocolate lollipops and sold “Oil-O-Grams” with proceeds going to aid families with oil heating bills this winter.

“Our goal was to teach children to look beyond the holiday presents and to focus instead on giving of themselves through their time and effort,” said Gail Beckman Buchbinder, Education Director of Congregation Beth Israel.

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Because the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is also known as “The Festival of Lights”, party attendees were given multiple opportunities to brighten someone else’s life. Not only could they contribute to the Mitzvah Booths, but they also could create gifts for the elderly and make coupon books for loved ones.

Co-sponsored by Congregation Beth Israel’s Religious School and Men’s Club, the Hanukkah party also featured food, games, crafts and entertainment for the whole family. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP.