BUCKTOWN — A routine shopping trip to Home Depot this week introduced a Catholic family to the centuries-old Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.
Wrigleyville resident Steve Wafer and his son, Nathan, 5, a student at Sacred Heart Academy, were prepared to head home after visiting the retailer at 1232 W. North Ave. Sunday when a cashier mentioned that there was a menorah building workshop taking place at the back of the store.
"He is fascinated by menorahs and we thought it would be fun," the elder Wafer said of his son.
At the workshop, Wafer helped his son glue nine bolts onto a piece of plywood to hold nine candles — one for each of the eight nights of the holiday that began this past Saturday, and one for the shamus, a candle used to light the other candles.
But Wafer and his son and the 50 or so others at the workshop learned more than just how to build a menorah. They learned about the holiday, which celebrates the Maccabean revolt in the second century B.C.E. against the Greek-Syrians, who had taken over the Jews' Holy Temple in Jerusalem. At the rededication of the temple, a one-day supply of oil ended up burning for eight days until more oil could be found.
That "miracle" is what the holiday celebrates each night, Janet Frankl, 49 — a stay-at-home mom who is a member of the Jewish Bucktown chabad congregation that hosted the Home Depot event — explained to the children.
Parker Bryant, 7, of Ukrainian Village, didn't wait till she got home to test her menorah. At the workshop with her mother, Anne, she stuck a candle in each bolt and proudly showed off her work.
The weekend event was the first time Home Depot has partnered with a Chicago chabad, said event organizer Sara Moscowitz, wife of Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz.
"Home Depot was amazing to work with. They supplied the wood, nuts, glue, paint, goggles, everything," Sara Moscowitz said. "It was a lot of fun for everyone."
Though the dates of Hanukkah fluctuate every year because it is based on the Jewish calendar, the holiday's last night is this Saturday.