It doesn’t take a genius to observe that the pandemic has changed virtually every aspect of our lives. The Jewish holidays have certainly taken a hit. Which doesn’t mean that we can’t still celebrate and enjoy them. Just in a different way. A safer way. A way that acknowledges the seriousness, dangers and risks of the situation. For example, take Hanukkah gifts. I suppose you could always choose to get your friends, family and co-workers the same old generic gifts that are always available.

But how much more would those gifts be appreciated if they were reflective of our challenging time and situation? And so, if you’d like to be considered a thoughtful gift giver, why not consider one or more of the following COVID-themed Hanukkah gift ideas? Some of these may already exist, but if they don’t, they should. (Attention, Jewish entrepreneurs!) With any of these gifts, you’ll have a “happy challah day” and they’ll love you “a latke”. (Sorry, though my kids are grown, I’ve never been able to fully evolve from dad-joke mode.)

COVID-Version Menorah

The very special COVID-version menorah combines the traditional menorah with the modern COVID test by virtue of a patented tube connected to the candelabrum. Blow into the tube and the electronic candles will immediately turn green if you test positive, or red if you test negative. The children’s version, when blown into, also produces festive bubbles in the Israeli flag colors of blue and white. Celebrate the holiday and stay on top of your health at the same time!

COVID-Version Dreidel

A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, played during Chaunkah. Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. These letters are translated in Yiddish for the rules of a gambling game played with a dreidel: Nun stands for the Yiddish word nisht ("nothing"), Gimel for gants ("all"), Hei for halb ("half"), and Shin for shtel arayn ("put in"). However, they represent the Hebrew phrase nes gadol hayah sham ("a great miracle happened there"), referring to the miracle of the cruse of oil. The COVID Dreidel simply substitutes these appropriate Yiddish words on the dreidel: Mem stands for the word maske (“mask”), sin for zeks (“six feet apart”), tsvey vovn for vashn hent (“wash hands”), and kof for keyn krauds (“no crowds”). Play a game, learn some Yiddish, and acknowledge the spirit of Hanukkah and the pandemic, all in one traditional toy. Win-win!

COVID-Version Mask

Just because we have to mask up, doesn’t mean we can’t be thematically appropriate for the holiday. A proper mask serves to keep you and others safe from the Coronavirus. Hanukkah versions are available with images of menorahs, dreidels, Hanukkah gelt, wrapped presents, Hanukkah food, and singing and dancing Jews. Reversible masks are available, too. Simply flip them over for images of, depending on your choice, Passover, Purim, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shavuot. Way to stay festively safe!

COVID-Version Matzoh Ball Soup Mix

We’ve all seen the electron microscope’s high-resolution images of the coronavirus, with its spikes that adorn the outer surface, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion. One savvy Jewish soup maker has paid particular attention to this image and has managed to create a matzoh ball that looks quite similar, with bits of red horseradish standing in for the spikes. Some cultures believe that to eat your enemy is to perform an extreme form of physical dominance. So, go ahead, what have you got to lose? Gobble up those “corona balls”, and gain dominance over them!

COVID-Version Kosher Hanukkah Gift Basket

What says Hanukkah and love more than a traditional kosher holiday gift basket, tweaked just a tad for Covid-19? Your Covid Hanukkah gift basket might include some or all of the following, presented in a deluxe woven basket in the shape of an ICU bed:

  • Ventilator-shaped chocolate squares
  • BBQ corn nuggets that spell out “Please stay 6 feet away”
  • Soft vanilla apple caramels that add extra protection to your mask
  • Honey mustard & onion pretzel sticks that double as Covid test devices
  • Crème brulee trail mix for when your healthy family banishes you to the forest
  • Hazelnut wafer rolls with “Pandemic 2020-2021” emblazoned on each
  • Merlot red wine to help you forget how good life used to be
  • Strawberry seedless preserves, because even the seeds had to stay at home
  • Gourmet fresh fruit mix (note: due to pandemic shipping schedules, by the time you receive them, they’ll be dried fruit)
  • Roasted salted pistachios in the shell (note: the pistachios will need to remain in their shells until your local mayor, governor, or Dr. Fauci lifts restrictions)
  • World’s richest 4-flavor cheesecake sampler (because if we’re all doomed, who cares about a healthy diet?)

COVID-Themed Kitchen Apron

One might argue that the pandemic has made the Hanukkah kitchen apron obsolete. After all, if you get food stains on your good clothing, who’s going to notice besides those you’re already living with who know you’re a slob anyway? You make a valid point. Still, for those who’ve managed to hold on to their self-respect and pride in appearance, nothing beats a quality kitchen apron for staying clean. Especially, if the apron has thematically appropriate visuals and slogans on it acknowledging our current challenges. For example:

  • “Kiss me, I tested negative”
  • “My other apron’s in quarantine”
  • “Next year in Jerusalem--assuming we’re allowed to fly”
  • “U.S. Olympic Hanukkah Baking Team”
  • “Stand back – I have a latke to do today”
  • “Schmutz happens”
  • “I’m not old – I’m well-seasoned”

COVID-Themed Music

Store-bought gifts are all well and good, but think how your recipient’s eyes will light up when you hand them a Hanukkah gift you actually put together yourself, something to which you gave some thought. For example, why not create for them a musical collection of COVID-themed songs? There are plenty of them out there, such as:

  • “Stayin’ Alive”, by the BeeGees
  • “U Can’t Touch This”, by M.C. Hammer
  • “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”, by the Police
  • “One is the Loneliest Number”, by Three Dog Night
  • “Help!”, by the Beatles
  • “I Will Survive”, by Gloria Gaynor
  • “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”, by REM
  • “Stand Back”, by Stevie Nicks
  • “That’s Life”, by Frank Sinatra
  • “All By Myself”, by Eric Carmen
  • “Another One Bites the Dust”, by Queen
  • “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers