Friday, December 16, 2005

To dreidle or not to dreidle

My kids want to celebrate Hannukah. They've played dreidle as part of "multicultural December" at school, we've read books about it. Now they want to do it up right here at home. Part of me says, "Hey, I'm half Jewish. My kids need a connection to their heritage. This would be okay." But most of me says it's not fair to "dabble" in the fun parts of a religious tradition if you have no intention of taking on the obligations that go along with that tradition. So--no Mennorah if you're not planning to fast on Yom Kippur and give up shrimp curry as your favorite take out dish. No Latkes if you're not willing to identify publicly as Jewish and take the heat when the skinheads come to town.

How do you all feel about this? Where is the line between appropriately exploring another faith tradition and shamelessly exploiting it for your own enjoyment? (See, I'm not so sure the extra presents factor isn't at least part of my kids' Hannukah campaign . . . .)

8 comments:

SpookyRach said...

I really have no opinion, and certainly not an informed one. But let me know how the "extra presents" thing works out - I may want to try that.

cheesehead said...

I'm with you, Rebel. I was in a fabric/crafts store recently that had (in a very small section of the "Christmas Items") Hannukah lights, complete with dreidle-themed cups, plates, napkins, wrapping paper, etc. And by Hannukah lights, I don't mean menorahs, but blue strings of lights very similar to the ones Christians would put on a tree.

Every Jew I've ever known has downplayed the importance of Hannukah as a religious holiday.

I just don't get it.

I wonder if our Jewish brothers and sisters feel "pressure to perform" in December because of how "Christmas The Culture" has invaded society?

Quotidian Grace said...

How about telling the kids they can light the menorah every night for 8 nights, play with the dreidel and eat latkes--but presents are only being exchanged for Christmas because you are Christians? That ought to flush out their real motivations!

Songbird said...

I like QG's suggestion. Because seriously, they wouldn't be fasting on Yom Kippur at this age, anyway. They would be learning the story behind Purim and eating the Hammentaschen, and doing the fun activities for Sukkoth. Do we heavily emphasize the Crucifixion to really young kids?
I appreciate the sensitivity you are expressing, but if you strip away the gifts and they're still interested, I would consider doing it.

Songbird said...

I like QG's suggestion. Because seriously, they wouldn't be fasting on Yom Kippur at this age, anyway. They would be learning the story behind Purim and eating the Hammentaschen, and doing the fun activities for Sukkoth. Do we heavily emphasize the Crucifixion to really young kids?
I appreciate the sensitivity you are expressing, but if you strip away the gifts and they're still interested, I would consider doing it.

see-through faith said...

I wrote about Advent and Channuhah today - then pulled the post temporarily

My thoughts - for what they are worth - is that it would be ok to celebrate this. The prayers for the lighting of the candles are - not suprisingly- very biblical.

As Christians we do have a Jewish inheritance - and it's not wrong to acknowledge it - can be marvellous actually. The Eucharist is based on the Passover supper and the shabbat meal, and any celebration that puts God firmly at the centre is IMHO worth doing, although you can adapt it to where you are etc.

I wouldn't do any of the commercial stuff - the cups, napkins or presens. but I would celebrate the light of Jesus Christ - for all nations as promised by God in the OT

does this make sense.
I'll put my original post back up in a day or two. I just had a roller coaster day and needed to blog about that instead - and two long posts in one day isn't good That's the only reason I withdrew it

SingingOwl said...

This question reminded me of my best buddy in elementary school, an Orthodox girl named Judith. We had many conversations about our beliefs, since we talked about nearly everything that mattered to us. She always visited my house sometime during Christmas, and she loved our tree...and I, in turn went to her house one evening during Hannukah. I still remember feeling honored that her rather austere dad allowed the Gentile friendd to light the candle. I think it was number five.

I agree with Songbird and QG. So it's not fair to do the fun stuff without the deeper stuff? Well, no, but who says life is always fair? It isn't. I think it's a great opportunity to learn about other's faith and beliefs while having a bit of fun in the process. IMO, it is perfectly okay for this to just be a bit of fun and learning. Candle are cool! ;-)

LutheranChik said...

We've had this conversation in our congregation before with respect to "pseudo-Seders"; my pastor points out that most of us might not take kindly to non-Christians staging a fake Eucharist "just to see what it's like."

I've also discussed this with others online. At one point I visited a Jewish forum and posed the question to them (again, in reference to Christians holding seders). About half the people who responded to me didn't have a problem with Christians celebrating a seder per se ("by the book," as opposed to the ones that attempt to put a Christian spin on it), and would even be willing to help with advice, materials, etc.; the other half did feel that their holiday was being misappropriated. Almost all the respondents suggested that celebrating the holiday with Jewish people, instead of trying to recreate it in a Christian context, was the best option.

Hannukah does provide us with a great excuse/motivation to read about the Maccabees in the OT Apocrypha...which I'm trying to acquaint myself with more.