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Posted Dec 14, 2009 @ 11:42 PM

Last update Dec 14, 2009 @ 11:54 PM
PEORIA - Sidney Shaffer of Peoria just turned 5 years old, and loves gelt, or gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins.
"You get to eat them or pay dreidel with them," she said.
She also was excited to do some Israeli dances with her Peoria Hebrew Day School classmates.
"The big kids get to do two dances," she said.
The dancing and dreidel-spinning was all part of a Hanukkah celebration Monday night, which was sponsored by PHDS and Chabad Jewish Center of Peoria. Unique to this particular gathering on the fourth night of Hanukkah was the lighting of a CANorah and honoring retired PHDS Principal Marcia Riddle.
Rabbi Eli Langsam of the Chabad Jewish Center said that every year a large menorah of a different theme is lit. In years past, there's been a chocolate menorah and a LEGO menorah. But for this year, the decision to use canned goods to make a CANorah had special meaning.
"We chose (canned goods) this year because of the economic times and the troubles people are going through," Langsam said.
More than 150 cans were collected by PHDS for the CANorah, and will be donated to the Midwest Food Bank after the festivities.
"The meaning of Hanukkah is lightness over darkness," he said. "There's no better way of spreading lightness than giving food to those in need."
The CANorah's central candle, which is used to light the rest of the menorah, was lit by honored guest Principal Riddle.
"It's quite an honor," she said before lighting the shamash. Riddle began her 27-year career at PHDS as a teacher and spent her last 10 years as principal.
"I really miss the children," she said, adding that she often still visits the school of 20 children.
A board member at PHDS, Yona Lunken of Putnam was one of the organizers of Monday's event and spoke highly of Riddle.
"The lighting of the candle is symbolic of lighting of knowledge," he said. "Riddle carried the light of knowledge to our kids."
The new principal at PHDS, Tamara Shaffer, said her predecessor, Riddle, is "a little lady but has big shoes to fill."
Once prayers were said and the CANorah was lit, it was time for dancing, singing, playing games and a kosher meal of corned beef and latkes, or potato pancakes.
"I even saw chocolate cake!" said Liam Andrade, 8, of Morton.
Paul Small, president of the PHDS board of directors, said events such as Monday night's CANorah lighting that are open to people of all faiths explain what Hanukkah is all about.
"It lets us display to the community who we are," he said. "Our kids take great pride in who we are."
 
Elyse Russo can be reached at 686-3251 or erusso@pjstar.com.
 
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Adira Lunken, 7, center, lights a menorah with her mother Dina, top, sister Ronit, 6, left, and brother Ilan, 4, far left, all of Putnam as the Peoria Hebrew Day School hosts a Hanukkah celebration Monday night at the Anshai Emeth building in Peoria.

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Rabbi Eli Langsam watches as Marcia Riddle she lights a CANorah, a menorah made up of canned food that is to be donated to the Midwest Food Bank. Riddle is the former principal of the Peoria Hebrew Day School.

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Ashley Eggert, 12, of Peoria joins kids from the Peoria Hebrew Day School as they sing and dance to Jewish songs during a Hanukkah program Monday night at the Anshai Emeth building in Peoria.

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Kids from the Peoria Hebrew Day School sing and dance to Jewish songs during a Hanukkah program Monday night at the Anshai Emeth building in Peoria
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Rabbi Eli Langsam praises Marcia Riddle as she lights a CANorah, a menorah made up of canned food that is to be donated to the Midwest Food Bank. Riddle is the former principal of the Peoria Hebrew Day School
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Joan Halperin of Peoria leads kids from the Peoria Hebrew Day School in song and dance during a Hanukkah program Monday night at the Anshai Emeth building in Peoria. 
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Rabbi Eli Langsam lights a CANorah, a menorah made up of to be donated to the Midwest Food
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Kids from the Peoria Hebrew Day School sing and dance to Jewish songs during a Hanukkah program Monday night at the Anshai Emeth building in Peoria.
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Payton Kessler, 11, of Peoria lights a menorah with her mother, Laura, as the Peoria Hebrew Day School hosts a Hanukkah celebration Monday night at the Anshai Emeth building in Peoria 
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Kids from the Peoria Hebrew Day School sing and dance to Jewish songs during a Hanukkah program Monday night at the Anshai Emeth building in Peoria. 
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Rabbi Eli Langsam sings after lighting a CANorah, a menorah made up of canned food to be donated to the Midwest Food Bank
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Liam Andrade, 9, of Morton lights a menorah with his brother, Sean, 11, as they family joins celebrations as the Peoria Hebrew Day School hosts a Hanukkah celebration Monday night at the Anshai Emeth building in Peoria