If you’re looking for a project that will help you celebrate Shabbat and give the earth a little love, look no further! These upcycled Shabbat candle holders combine two important Jewish values: tikkun olam (repairing the world) and hiddur mitzvah (to beautify a mitzvah). By reusing old materials and keeping things out of the waste stream, we are reducing our lasting effect on the planet. While recycling gives us an alternative way to dispose of waste, upcycling teaches us to see the potential for objects we may have just viewed as trash before. This can change our perspective and even shift our consumption habits in the long run, making an even bigger impact.

Judaism teaches that it is an even greater mitzvah when we not only observe God’s commandments, but take special measure to create beauty with them. In this way, the mitzvah becomes just as much about us and our experience as it is about keeping commandments. When we give extra special care to a mitzvah and make it appealing to our senses, we add special meaning to the mitzvah. In this tutorial, we are going to make beautifully painted candle holders out of old jelly jars. Let’s get crafting!

Upcycled Shabbat Candle Holders

Recommended for ages 4+


  • Cleaned-out glass jars
  • Tea lights
  • Something to paint with (acrylic paint or colorful nail polish)


  1. Wash out jars to make sure there’s no stickiness or smell.
  2. Decide with your child on a design to make. For younger kids, “blobs” is a perfectly acceptable design, and Jewish stars, flowers or leaves make great designs if your children are older. (Or if you have a very artistically talented 5-year-old).
  3. Paint on the outside of the jars and leave them to dry.
  4. When they dry, you are ready to put your tea lights inside and use them to light candles on Shabbat!

Molly Zimmerman (she/her) is a sophomore at Brandeis University, originally from Texas, and is now in her second year as a BJEP teacher.  BJEP, the Sunday morning program located on the Brandeis campus, is more like summer camp than a school. Our students look forward to coming each week to learn in a way designed for kids. Our educators, who are Brandeis students, put a fun twist on learning while fostering critical thinking, communication and leadership skills. Through art, music and games, kids explore their Jewish values and Jewish identity, holiday celebrations, eco-Judaism and Hebrew. Learn more at bjep.org.

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