Handmade at Hanukkah

Eleanor Levie is an art quilter working with recycled materials. Her solo exhibit, Trash Stash Quilt Art, is currently on display at the Da Vinci Art Alliance through December 20. The exhibit features mixed-media collages which “upcycle single-use packaging that once held teabags, coffee, produce, and animal feed. Damaged vintage linens, old zippers, torn dress patterns, and even scrap metal found on the street.”

In this guest post, she pitches the concept of recycled-material Hanukkah cards.

By Eleanor Levie

Does the concept of Hanukkah cards make you chuckle? Traditionally, if Jews send holiday cards, it’s been for the purpose of wishing members of the tribe a sweet new year before the High Holy Days. Few of us get into sending season’s greetings in December unless we feel the need of an all-purpose mailing to a diverse mix of family and friends celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or New Year’s. Or perhaps the old Seinfeld mash-up Festivus (for the rest of us!).   

While we can’t gather to light the menorah together, perhaps we can still cause the faces of loved ones to light up in delight. And as we close out the tumultuous, difficult, and dark secular year and usher in 2021, parties are out of the question, but personalized greetings are never as welcome as they are now. 

Imagine what a thrill it would be for Bubbe to find something colorful with the mark of a grandchild’s hand in her mailbox. For Uncle Max in an assisted living residence to receive a totally unique hanukkah collage he can hang on his door. Envision the fun of gathering your Covid pod to make dreidel cards and string them together as a banner across your dining area. 

Aside from postage, crafting cards need not cost you any gelt…er, money. Recycling what you would ordinarily pitch into the garbage will provide all the materials you need.

You’ll be doing a mitzvah, not only for the recipient of your handmade cards, but for the planet.

Want some how-to’s? Check out “Holiday card making with artist Eleanor Levie.This short video offers suggestions for using old calendar pages, single-serve packaging, and no-mess adhesives to make crafting fun and easy for all ages. The video accompanies my solo art show at Da Vinci Art Alliance, going on now through Dec. 20. You can take an online tour of the exhibit, or play an “I Spy” game to search for 10 specific shapes or graphics.

I certainly won’t argue that sending Hanukkah cards is a Jewish thing. But kesher—making connections—is very definitely a part of our hard-wiring and our values. We may not be able to hug, share eight nights of in-person candle-lighting, and communally feast on latkes and sufganiyot. But this year, let’s take some time to reach out and uniquely, individually, and creatively express our bonds of love. 


 “Morah Levie” taught art at Rodeph Shalom Congregation’s religious school and incorporated quite a bit of hands-on crafting as she taught Jewish studies at Temple Judea of Bucks County. 

Learn more about her work.