Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Channeling her inner pyromaniac

As a rule, Israeli ganenets have never met a fire hazard they didn’t like.

Whether it’s the ubiquitous ooltra with the electric cord lying right where the kids can trip on it or the sparklers which the kids are supposed to hold at their birthday parties (!!), these ganenets do everything in their power to show their disdain for basic fire safety.

But at this evening’s Chanukah party, the ganenet took things to a whole new level.

The performance began innocently enough. Each child was given an oversized wooden block covered in gold paper, and they then built a giant chanukiyah out of the blocks.

Now, before any of you interrupt and say that “Building a Chanukiyah Out of Wooden Blocks” is a standard element of gan parties (along with the Giant Draidel PiƱata), let me explain that this chanukiyah was different.

Instead of placing the blocks on the floor in a single layer, the kids built up. In other words, the chanukiyah was over a meter high. And since the blocks were not uniformly sized, the top layer was far from level.

When the kids were finished, the ganenet put nine (i.e. 8 plus 1 for the shamash) glass bottles each filled with water, olive oil, and floating wicks – on top of the very rickety, wooden structure*.

She then lit the “candles”, and the kids stood around and waved colored paper streamers not too far from the dancing flames.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was nervous, because one of the kids shouted out, “Zeh me’od mesukan!” (“That’s very dangerous!”)

Yet the ganenet merely smiled.

She knew that the laws of physics don’t apply when it comes to gan parties…


* Sorry, no pictures. Our camera’s battery died soon after I arrived at the party.


  1. I've been here in Israel since before I was a mother, and the lack of safety awareness is criminal. G-d must be looking out for the kids.

  2. Batya, not always. One kid almost died at a school Chanukah party in Raanana a few years ago. At a gan party I went to, a girl set her nametag on fire with her candle. I wrote two years ago about looking for fire exits (none) instead of watching the party.

  3. Batya and MII - In any event, I think that overall, the situation has definitely improved over the years.

    And on a related note - would you say that I c"v crossed the line into "hotza'at dibat haAretz" with this post? I certainly didn't intend it that way. When I joke about life in Israel, it's because I love this Land and believe that we are truly blessed and privileged to be living here. I hope that comes through in all of my posts.

  4. I just had a conversation about this with a kindergarten teacher here in NY. She said that the previous teacher (who was Israeli) had been fired because she did some kind of activity where the 4 year olds had to dance while holding lit candles. I told her that I wasn't surprised, because Israeli teachers love putting fire near kids, but she didn't believe me.

  5. SuperRaizy - I guess you can take the ganenet out of Israel, but you can't take Israel out of the ganenet...

    Shabbat Shalom!


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