Long Island Temple Offers New Approach To Holiday Giving

ROSLYN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Is it truly better to give than to receive? A synagogue on Long Island has launched a campaign asking families to re-think their giving habits on Chanukah.

The shopping frenzy — and gifts — are all part of the holiday season. But as the Chanukah giving continues for another four nights, Temple Sinai of Roslyn is putting a different spin on the gift giving tradition.

Teens are making gift baskets for patients in the hospital. Children are also making sandwiches for food banks in need of a hand.

The temple is collecting books, toys, and pajamas for the homeless. They’re even hosting a pizza party for kids with special needs.

“It’s just a good feeling to know you impacted someone else’s life even if they didn’t impact yours,” 14-year-old Alex Horowitz tells CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

Each of the eight nights, the temple encourages families to think differently about Chanukah.

Leaders of Long Island’s largest reform congregation branded the hashtag “#8nightsofgiving” now seen widely on social media.

“We all receive so many gifts, almost too many,” temple president Jonathan Cheris said. “This was a chance to give back to the community, something very specific every night.”

Each night has been themed to a different cause with both hands-on and donation opportunities.

“We’re looking to bring it to the world at large and bring this concept beyond the Roslyn community and get other people excited about the idea of giving back during the holiday season,” temple executive director Alison Stamm said.

Rabbi Andrew Gordon tells CBS2 this isn’t about denying children their Chanukah presents. It’s about enriching them in other ways too.

“We want our kids to realize that during Chanukah they have a responsibility not just for them and their families but for the broader world, to make the world truly a place for everyone,” Gordon said.

Rabbi Gordon encourages families to devise their own lists for eight nights of giving.

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