These days, it’s become tradition to give friends and relatives gifts on Hanukah. But did you know that originally, Hanukah gifts, or “gelt,” were small amounts of money, given to children, who were then instructed to give it to tzedakah as a way of sharing the blessings of Hanukah.
Over time, that custom shifted, and the children kept the gelt for themselves, thus missing the point of the exercise. The purpose has become even more skewed, as gelt for tzedakah has been replaced by toys and other gifts.
So, maybe this year, we can kick it old-school and give a little bit to charity on one night, as we open our Nintendo Wii or new sweater the next.