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aharon

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Join date : 2012-10-22

PostSubject: Hannukah   Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:29 pm

This will be the first year in our family where we 'officially' (for want of a better term) celebrate Hannukah.

I'm really looking forward to it. Having not converted yet I feel somewhat of a fraud purchasing a menorah and other associated items but I feel really 'comfortable' having them in my home.

I'd like to ask others out there who also came to Judaism from a Christian background, how did you feel about celebrating Hannukah. Did you pay lip service to Christmas or just go cold turkey on that one?

My ten year old son enthusiastically got involved in Purim and is excited about Hannukah but seems pretty bummed that there'll be a very low Christmas in the house from now on. Part of me feels guilty for that and I'm wrestling with how best to smooth the transition.
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Sarit

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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:49 am

Yeeey, Channukah is so near, I also can't wait! Personally I feel quite comfortable with buying or choosing Jewish items for my home; I don't think it could be seen as a fraud - you are not doing anything halachically forbidden, and you are going to use all that items appropriately, so I don't really see a problem. :)

As of the Christmas time, I sort of do and don't come from the family with the Christian background. I mean, my parents had a New Year's tree (as we call it here), we were sitting and watching the Christmas program (most often looking for some good movie) enjoying the days-off from work and that was it. No further involving into the Christmas spirit, no church, no stressing on the specific narrative or part of the Christmas story. The same was for Easter. When I left home for further schooling (I was 15 back then), I didn't do even that. I simply never felt it, never found it closely meaningful and relevant to me. Having looked at all that, it is easy to understand why it is not hard for me not to pay much attention on Christmas today, but it also targets me as a bit incompetent to answer you.

I also don't have children yet, but, thinking about what you can do - well, you can make Channukah celebration something to remember (and there are quite many Channukah things kids can enjoy very much!), and try to make around-the-Christmas-time as fulfilled as you can for your son - there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the winter days! I know it can be quite hard when the streets and programs and people are completely involved in Christmas, but you'll find a way, I'm sure! Talk much with your son and listen to his feelings also - I think that talking and mutual listening and understanding can be of much importance here.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:32 pm

Aharon,

You shouldn't feel like a "fraud" for purchasing a menorah ("chanuykiah" is the more proper Hebrew term since "menorah" just means "lampstand" and also refers to the Temple menorah described in Exodus: a six-branch+main stem lampstand). But you also don't need to purchase a menorah, but make your own instead. Here are some simply "do-it-yourself" ideas for making your own menorah:
http://www.policymic.com/articles/20385/hanukkah-2012-5-ways-to-make-a-diy-menorah (Warning: Don't leave the Lego menorah unattended with burning candles.)
I personally like the votive candle menorah which is something like I was going to suggest, but without even the glass cup holders, and I would just find a small jar or use a stack of quarters to raise the Shamash candle. And that way you don't even need to buy the specially made "Chanukah candles"

Here's a version of a home-made menorah that a lot of Jewish kids make in Hebrew school:
http://www.education.com/activity/article/Make_Your_Own_Menorah/

Most kids enjoy crafts, so your kids are likely to enjoy making their own menorah.

My kids never experienced Christmas in our home. They have visited my parents during the holiday  where they saw my parents tree and participated in gift-exchange and attended the large extended family gathering of my aunts, uncles (siblings of both my parents), cousins, and my cousins' kids. But my parents don't really celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. For the years when we have not visited them during Christmas, my kids don't seem to miss it---I don't remember that they even asked about it. They don't see it as their own holiday. We have never tried to make Chanukah a substitute-Christmas holiday. I did give the kids some small Chanukah gifts when they were young, but I did not send anything to my daughter for Chanukah when she was away at college for the holiday last year. I did offer to send her a glow stick menorah that would be safe to "light" in her dorm room, but she is a traditionalist and said that she preferred to watch the lighting of real candles at the dining hall that has the kosher option (She's at Brandeis where 55% of the students are Jewish). Then again, I also grew up in a family that did not go nuts showering kids with Christmas presents even though my parents could afford it. The Chanukah gift-giving is still IMHO a Christmas-inspired activity, but one that even our Orthodox Jewish friends in the US seem to do.  

However, it would certainly be different for kids who are used to celebrating Christmas to "lose" that tradition. And this year, the holidays are a full month apart, so Chanukah will be long over at Christmas time. I would favor the approach of easing them out of Christmas rather than the "cold-turkey" route which I think might make them resentful and cause them to feel like Judaism was responsible for depriving them of something nice. One thing you can do is to allow your children to keep some parts of Christmas such as a tree or other decorations, but make it understood that it is for them because you don't celebrate that holiday anymore. And you can try to do less religiously themed things that just tend to be associated with Christmas like making a gingerbread house (Here's a simple faux-version made from graham crackers: http://christmas.organizedhome.com/crafts/christmas/graham-cracker-mini-gingerbread-houses.) Or making snowflake decorations instead of definitely-Christmasy items.

I think you mentioned that your kids are attending Hebrew school, Aharon? If it is a Reform Jewish Hebrew school, you might be surprised to find out that some of those Jewish kids have Christmas trees in their homes. (I had heard about this, but I was still truly shocked when I saw the tree in my college roommate's home when we were visiting in December several years ago---and she's a proud Reform Jew who was even on the board of her Reform temple.) So if you go hard-core "absolutely no Christmas" in your family, it might even be more extreme than the norm of the Jewish families that your kids know and you'll be confronted with "but the Cohen family has a Christmas tree in their house", and there may be a number of interfaith families who are either bringing up the kids in "both religions" or have one parent who is an active Christian. Not that you have to do what others do, of course, but you may want to be prepared to address these comparisons since they might come up.


Last edited by Debbie B. on Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:48 pm

For people with younger kids, here is a great deal on Chanukah books (8 books for only $8!):
http://www.karben.com/8-Books-for-8-Bucks--A-Hanukkah-Special_p_658.html
I am not familiar with these particular kids' books, but this publisher prints some of my very favorite Jewish children's books. I liked the Sammy the Spider books so much that I kept buying the new ones when my kids were past the picture-book age, and then I realized that it would likely be many years until I had grandchildren to give them to and then it might be more fun to enjoy the books that I hadn't seen with those kids. "Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah" is a wonderful book for pre-school aged kids that also teaches counting, and color too, if I remember correctly.
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:19 pm

aharon wrote:
This will be the first year in our family where we 'officially' (for want of a better term) celebrate Hannukah.

I'm really looking forward to it. Having not converted yet I feel somewhat of a fraud purchasing a menorah and other associated items but I feel really 'comfortable' having them in my home.

I'd like to ask others out there who also came to Judaism from a Christian background, how did you feel about celebrating Hannukah. Did you pay lip service to Christmas or just go cold turkey on that one?

My ten year old son enthusiastically got involved in Purim and is excited about Hannukah but seems pretty bummed that there'll be a very low Christmas in the house from now on. Part of me feels guilty for that and I'm wrestling with how best to smooth the transition.
We pretty much went cold turkey. We had mad the decision early in the year, and got rid of all of our Christmas stuff long before the time came. We made a big deal out the candle lighting and singing songs to help the younger kids with the transition. The only exposure they really have is at my mom's house, but they handle the switch really well. One thing that really helped (I think) is that they each have their own Channukia that they light themselves.

And don't feel out of place; we all start somewhere, and if this is where you feel right at then you're right where you belong.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:52 am

There is nothing related to Christmas in my home except a night light I've had since I was a wee little girl (it's a mouse wearing a santa hat). However, I don't have children so it's not as difficult. If you want ideas for crafts and decorations, pinterest can be helpful helpful.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:14 am

More DIY menorah ideas:

This is an article written by the daughter of founding members of my lay-led minyan. She is very Jewishly knowledgeable and very creative. The last menorah in the article, using food coloring in water and floating candles, is my favorite.
Kveller DIY menorahs
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:32 am

oh, that is interesting! I'd never thought of that.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:58 am

I went cold turkey from Christmas (I was already feeling disillusioned with it, anyways), but I do have one "concession:" I picked out four ornaments from my Christmas stuff that were very meaningful to me. None of them are religious in nature. One is a Pooh Bear that I've had forever; I don't know where it even came from or when. One is a "first Christmas" ornament that my grandmother (who died this past year) gave me. One is a horse that my mother bought for me I think the first Christmas after she and my stepfather got married and we blended our families (everyone in the family got their own ornament). And lastly, there is a "first Christmas together" ornament that I bought the first year my husband and I were together.

I hang them from my menorah every year (I call them "my menorah bling"). Each of them represents a stage in my life, and the menorah represents a stage, too. Kind of a look back at where I've been relative to where I am now.
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Hannukah   Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:37 pm

Oh, I see I come a bit late to this discussion, chanukah is almost over....
I celebrate for the first time this year! We have the candles, the chocolate gelt and I even got presents! I also went to a chanukah event at the yiddish community center in Paris, which was great fun.
I am maybe not halachically Jewish but I don't feel as a fraud at all by celebrating or buying the candles as I did, as a kosher butcher's shop (I was surprised to find candles at the butcher's, but...I found them!). As far as I know, lighting chanukah candles isn't prohibited to non-jews, and I do it with the right intentions and feel such a joy at doing it: if the feelings are sincere, why should it be a fraud?

Concerning christmad: this year I won't be able to escape the family christmas as I did the last two years, when I actually went out to have drinks with friends instead of sitting round a tree. But like the last time I celebrated christmas witrh the family, I will again politely but firmly refuse to go to church. And that will be it. Sorry to say that I have no choice :5
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