HomeCalendarFAQSearchRegisterLog in

Share | 
 

 secular holidays

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
Go to page : 1, 2  Next
AuthorMessage
Bee

avatar

Posts : 314
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: secular holidays   Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:57 am

I'm just starting off on my path here and wondering how to handle upcoming secular holidays. This time last year I was passing out xtian bible tracks with candy, now I can't stomach the thought . This new neighbourhood is swarming with children and teenage vandals, they will be knocking for candy, and I don't know what to do. I don't want eggs thrown at our home. I once told them to get off our property and found my fence missing some panels, among other vandalism. They throw baseballs at my garage door, they hip hop dance on my driveway till 2 am, etc. How do you deal with upcoming holidays and is it ok or not to participate?
Back to top Go down
James

avatar

Posts : 101
Join date : 2011-09-06
Location : NC

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:59 pm

We haven't done Halloween in years, long before I decided to convert.

We just stopped doing it; we turn off the lights, lock the door, and watch a movie. We do a bit of candy for our kids though.


I don't know what to tell you about neighborhood kids. Maybe you could just go out during that time so no one is home?
Back to top Go down
Dena

avatar

Posts : 678
Join date : 2011-09-05
Age : 34

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:32 pm

I don't really have a problem with Halloween which I assume is what you are talking about (I wouldn't call it a Holiday) so if we had kids around here I would pass out candy. But, they don't trick or treat around here so we don't.

The kids in your neighborhood sound like a separate issue. Have you ever contacted the police about it?
Back to top Go down
Mychal

avatar

Posts : 277
Join date : 2011-09-23
Location : Tennessee

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:29 pm

Although Halloween was originally All Hallow's Eve, a Christian holiday, it's long since lost all connection to it. In fact, you're more likely to find Christians not celebrating than you will find atheists not celebrating. There's not even any religious imagery associated with it. So, I don't see a problem with having a good time. (My husband and I finally got invited, this year, to a coveted Halloween party thrown by friends of friends; we're going.)

Of course, this might be your best opportunity to get your own small measure of revenge. When I was a kid, there was one house that was always scary; I mean, the guy had to have planned Halloween well in advance. One year, when kids were going to the house to get candy, he jumps out from behind a bush wearing a Freddy mask and carrying a chain saw (still not sure if the chain saw was actually on or if it was only a tape recording, but it was loud). Another year he there was a scarecrow doll in the porch swing. There was a bowl of candy on its lap and a sign "Take a piece." When a kid reached for the bowl, the scarecrow doll came to life and grabbed the kid by the hand. Kids screamed and went flying, and he just laughed.

Something like that would not only bring you a measure of entertainment, but it'll keep the vandals away (if only because you're out, watching). In many cases, if kids think you're cool, they'll leave you alone and will discourage others from bothering you. Or maybe you'll just be so weird they'll be too scared to mess with you. :<---:
Back to top Go down
http://becomingjew.blog.com/
Bee

avatar

Posts : 314
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:55 pm

Well I have no choice now, a neighborhood teenager just asked me if I have already bought the candy as I was getting out of my car. I told him I don't know if we will be home and he said he noticed we have not started decorating...and that I would not be out that night because its a work day the following day. He said they will be all looking for candy.
Back to top Go down
Samantha

avatar

Posts : 66
Join date : 2011-09-18
Location : London, England

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:03 pm

I have pretty much "hung up my cap" in regards to Halloween. Christmas is pretty much non-negotiable as I live with a Christian grandmother, but I completely refuse to budge for Halloween. However my grandmother will always give out sweets as it's what she's always done, and I have no problem with doing so. I just don't go to Halloween parties or dress up.
Back to top Go down
Dena

avatar

Posts : 678
Join date : 2011-09-05
Age : 34

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:12 pm

I don't dress up but I will go to a party if invited. My sister invited us to one which will be our dad's side of the family so we will go. We won't wear costumes.
Back to top Go down
Samantha

avatar

Posts : 66
Join date : 2011-09-18
Location : London, England

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:15 pm

Dena wrote:
I don't dress up but I will go to a party if invited. My sister invited us to one which will be our dad's side of the family so we will go. We won't wear costumes.

I think that's a pretty good compromise. Some of my secular Jewish friends choose instead to go to "themed" fancy dress parties which do not fall on the day of Halloween. I can see the logic in this solution but I still wouldn't do it - I just wouldn't feel comfortable.
Back to top Go down
Dena

avatar

Posts : 678
Join date : 2011-09-05
Age : 34

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:24 pm

I think Halloween is a weekday? We won't do anything different on that day. The party is on the weekend and no kids come by here asking for candy. Actually, I'll have class that night so I won't be here anyway.
Back to top Go down
Debbie B.

avatar

Posts : 373
Join date : 2011-09-05
Location : Chicagoland

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:39 am

Many of my Orthodox Jewish neighbors give out candy for Halloween. They don't dress up or decorate their house for Halloween of course, but they give out candy to be nice neighbors to the children of the area. Some Jewish neighbors who are uncomfortable participating directly, just leave a bowl of candy with a sign asking visitors to just take one.
Back to top Go down
Bee

avatar

Posts : 314
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Sun Oct 16, 2011 3:14 am

I told my husband that I'm leaving a bowl of candy outside and a belief in the honor system. After our laughing subsided, I suggested we just hide behind the bushes and throw eggs at them...beat them at their own game. He said no. Oh well...
Back to top Go down
Bee

avatar

Posts : 314
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Sun Oct 16, 2011 3:18 am

Kidding....
Back to top Go down
Rabbi-In-Training

avatar

Posts : 7
Join date : 2011-09-05

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:13 am

Use it as an opportunity to spread Torah! Perhaps when children come by for candy, if they have a moment, you can tell them about holidays such as Purim that, while not in the fall, have a similar method of observance.

Then perhaps they'll want to hear the story of Purim and be motivated to look into it!


Back to top Go down
Bee

avatar

Posts : 314
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:30 am

Maybe pass out dreidels and gold chocolate coins.
Back to top Go down
Bee

avatar

Posts : 314
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: S.O.S.   Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:57 pm

grrrrr...'tis the season!!! I am feeling so conflicted right now, everything is xmas xmas...grocery shopping the music is full blast, all the neighbore have their decorations and pretty lights....it used to be my favorite time of the year. How do you guys deal with this? its our first non xmas and I keep finding myself wanting to put lights on...how pretty they are and beautifully bright colors...please anyone give me advice on dealing with this? Its so hard and I know better but its every where!!! How can I get through this?
Sad
Back to top Go down
Debbie B.

avatar

Posts : 373
Join date : 2011-09-05
Location : Chicagoland

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:42 pm

It's been more than 20 years since I felt like Christmas was my holiday. My childhood memories are all in the past and I don't miss it any more than I do the stuffed rabbit I used to sleep with as a young child.

My daughter once told me that she feels sorry for her non-Jewish friends because they don't seem to celebrate many holidays. And indeed because we do observe so many Jewish holidays, to the extent that Chanukah is not in the top half dozen, I feel like I already have a very full ritual life. In many ways, Christmas cannot begin to compare to Pesach and even Sukkot to the degree that those two are such wonderfully rich holidays with lots of detail for observance. Less glitz than Christmas, but having the advantage of not being unduly influenced by excessive commercialism.

I personally do not like the way that Chanukah is played up due to its proximity in time to Christmas, but perhaps for ex-Christians it can be helpful in serving as a minor substitute. My own attitude is that Christmas lights and decorations are pretty, but they are other people's celebrations. I don't want to do the same any more than I would want to follow suit when a neighbor decorates for a birthday party.

It's probably easier for me where I live since half my neighbors are Jewish (and about half of them are Orthodox), and many of the rest are Muslim or Hindu other non-Christian. When my sister lived in Texas, she said that her neighbors put up a lot of Christmas decorations (tacky in her opinion) and suggested that they "get with the program". Her husband is a devout Catholic and their children are being raised as Catholic. My sister remains non-observant Protestant. They declined to set up the painted particle board cut-outs of Christmas figures on their lawn.
Back to top Go down
mikedoyleblogger

avatar

Posts : 104
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 46
Location : Chicago, IL

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:57 pm

Actually, the way I learned it, the intent of the "reworked" Chanukah--by the sages after the Roman conquest to replace Sukkot--was observance and celebration. The "miracle of the oil" backstory was added to make it a less political, more religious holiday and thus give Jews a way to celebrate in their homes near the time of year when we used to celebrate Sukkot--but couldn't anymore after the fall of the Second Temple and ban on "national" aspirations (so no more national pilgrimages.) With that in mind, keeping Chanukah with ruach and gusto need have nothing to do with keeping up with Christmas.

That's part of my reasoning for moving ahead with my holiday tree this year (I call it an Eitz Moed.) The story on that, for those interested, is here: Fifteen Christmases and an Eitz Moed
Back to top Go down
http://www.chicagocarless.com
Bee

avatar

Posts : 314
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:06 pm

Never heard of that...I tell you, Judaism has so many surprises and a multitude of observances. It's Luke peeling an onion. I will look it up, Thx.
Back to top Go down
Debbie B.

avatar

Posts : 373
Join date : 2011-09-05
Location : Chicagoland

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:44 pm

I'm all for celebrating Chanukah with gusto, but in a Jewish way. We enjoy lighting our oil and candle hanukiyot and cook up big batches of latkes. But for sure I don't think Chanuka needs to become the over-commercialized major consumer holiday that Christmas is in this country.

Call it what you want ("Chanuka bush" is an old euphemism), but decorating a tree for Chanuka is not a Jewish ritual. It is not even done for the celebration of Tu B'shvat which is about trees, after all.

Mike, you're pretty direct, so I will be blunt with you: do you really think you would be decorating a tree for Chanukah if is wasn't a tradition that Christians use to celebrate their holiday around the same time? Or are you doing this for a Christian partner? Also, next year, will you take down your tree after Chanukah is over, but before Christmas rolls around? (or is it in fact a "Christmas tree" that you choose to call something else?)

I know Jews who put up Christmas trees---I was a bit shocked to visit the home of my college roommate to see the tree in her home in late December. She is a Reform Jew who is active in the synagogue where she and her siblings celebrated their bnai mitzvah. Her husband is a secular Jew whose father was not Jewish when he married his (secular) Jewish mother, but after they divorced he converted when he re-married a Jewish woman.

But I don't know of any observant Jews who have Christmas trees, except perhaps where the tree is put up for a Christian spouse.
Back to top Go down
mikedoyleblogger

avatar

Posts : 104
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 46
Location : Chicago, IL

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:09 pm

Debbie B. wrote:
Mike, you're pretty direct, so I will be blunt with you: do you really think you would be decorating a tree for Chanukah if is wasn't a tradition that Christians use to celebrate their holiday around the same time? Or are you doing this for a Christian partner? Also, next year, will you take down your tree after Chanukah is over, but before Christmas rolls around? (or is it in fact a "Christmas tree" that you choose to call something else?)

Debbie, these are fair questions.

No, I doubt I'd be putting up my Eitz Moed if it weren't for the impact of the Christmas tradition in my childhood. But I also don't think I'd be hosting a Pesach seder if the vernal equinox hadn't already been celebrated by the faiths that pre-dated Judaism. Adopting and tailoring a vernal equinox celebration did not make Jews less Jewish. It gave us another opportunity to celebrate our Jewishness. I could say the same of many originally borrowed Jewish customs and holidays. And trees--as you noted via Tu B'Shvat, have a very important place in Jewish culture.

My partner is studying for conversion and will soon be Jewish. He never liked to put up a tree to begin with, so my tree is my own project.

As I explained in my blog post, my tree is a function of the secular calendar, not of anyone's religious holiday--Christian or Jewish. In keeping with my previous minhag, next year I will put it up immediately after Thanksgiving (as I did this year), and I will take it down on or shortly after New Year's Day.

Also as I noted in my post, as far as I'm concerned, a tree is a tree. With Christmas decorations, it's a Christmas tree. With Chanukah decorations, it's a Chanukah tree. And with decorations recalling the calendar of Jewish holidays, it's a Jewish holiday tree, or as I have called my new December tradition, an Eitz Moed.

And I would add, it is most definitely a tree "in a Jewish way." As a conscientious Reform-community Jew, I carefully considered (and blogged about) the positive and negative aspects about having one, the halacha and customs, and the meaning--both to me and others. I excised all decorative references to Christmas from the tree--whether secular or religious. And I filled the tree with elements that very specifically denote Hebrew-calendar holidays. Most importantly, though, it's a Jewish tree because it was put up by a Jew, in a Jewish home, with the intention of it being a Jewish tree.

The bottom line for me is intention. Christmas trees are intended for Christmas. I very carefully and very vigorously intend my Eitz Moed to celebrate my Jewish journey. That's Jewish enough for me.
Back to top Go down
http://www.chicagocarless.com
Dena

avatar

Posts : 678
Join date : 2011-09-05
Age : 34

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:33 pm

Two years ago I went to the home of our shul's President. I was quite shocked to see she had a giant Christmas tree. I tried not to judge her since I knew her husband wasn't Jewish. It turns out that she hates it but she promised him 30 years ago when they married that she would let him put up a Christmas tree. As far as I know it's the only "Christian" thing they do in their home. It's just one thing he's never been able to let go (though he's also chosen not to convert).

When I made the decision to convert I was adamant about not having a tree any longer, especially when we had children. I thought my husband would protest but he did not. We have no tree, no decorations and I've very grateful to him for being so willing to let all of that go just for me. I would honestly be crushed to have to have a "holiday" tree in my home.

As I mentioned on Mike's blog, I imagine it's very difficult to give up the tree when it's been a part of your life for so long. I personally wouldn't have one in my home but maybe that's easier for me to say, given I wasn't quite as attached to the idea. I also wouldn't put blue and white lights on my house this time of year or a giant inflatable menorah (because that's just tacky). A few understated decorations and perhaps some pretty place settings are all I really need.
Back to top Go down
daniel eliezer

avatar

Posts : 82
Join date : 2011-12-01
Location : Beit El, Israel

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:56 am

‘it’s about us’

Mike,

I gotta tell ya, I converted 34 years ago, and all together my life has reached past 62 years. In all that time, any sane, rational, normal person I ever knew or heard of would say that when a Menorah is found in a home in December that means there are Jews living in it, and when a Xmas tree is found in a home in December that means that Xtians are living in it. It’s a straightforward no-brainer. What could be the question? The only people who don’t think so and who do otherwise are, plain and simple, confused about ‘who they are’ – sadly a common affliction among today’s Jews and, by extension, today’s Gerim.

One of the things that has come to light during my years of being a Jew is my coming to realize that I suffer from a degenerative birth defect. I am plagued by increasingly abysmal ignorance, and aging has only made it worse. I read what you write and I say, “A young guy like this and look at all he knows. What a world it is!” What can I really say in response? Yet nonetheless, given that despite my affliction and without really knowing how or why, here and there I have managed to learn a thing or two.

In my day when you wanted to become a Jew (and remember this was eons before there was Internet and social networking, a time when Gerim were isolated from each other), Jews would tell you…and it wasn’t even obligatory because they all loved telling you…that Poppa Abraham stomped on all his father’s pagan idols. When his outraged father asked him why, he replied, “This stuff is dead, Pop. I don’t need all these fixations and baggage holding me back and trapping me in this rigid reality. They don’t lead anywhere! Why can’t I make you understand that?!”

Abraham was telling his father, “It’s not about idols and symbols and ideology. That’s all a head trip, Pop. That’s domination pure and simple. What’s real and genuine, Pop, is that it’s about people, about others. It’s about relationship. The Source of All Being is live and living - the source of all living-ness. What you and all this entire society have done is build a system that completely detaches us. We’re not living to fix and improve and build a better world. We’re living simply to preserve what is.”

So they used to tell me. Maybe it’s true; maybe it’s not. What did I know? What do I know?

Still, in all the struggles I’ve been through, about myself I’ve learned that when I follow my head I’m forever falling down and getting up and falling down and getting up and…endlessly. Yom Kippur is one big “you’ve done everything wrong the entire year” rerun. But curiously, from all the pounding that my head has taken, it’s my heart that has burst open?! A heart that has been broken too, too many times into too, too many pieces. And yet, every time it breaks it manages to come back, and it comes back bigger, and it’s deeper and filled with more and more love.

When I turned toward becoming a Jew, I didn’t know from God and I didn’t know from religion so much. Mostly I was driven by a search for truth. I don’t mean logical or philosophical or moral or ethical truth. I mean what Jews know as ‘אמת’ - emeth. I was genuinely searching to understand experiences concerning my own encounters with ‘אמת’ - emeth. [*]

Moreover, becoming a Jew was for me a search for myself. As greatly as I wanted to know why I was driven in the direction I was driven, I even more greatly wanted to know ‘who am I?’- who is this person inside me? I so much wanted my life to change, to heal, to be fixed.

And you have to know, that for whatever the answers my searching led me to, I’ve discovered that the greatest answer has been Abraham’s answer, “It’s not about me; it’s about you.”

So nowadays, when I relearn about Abraham and the continuation (and we’re right there with him in the Torah readings in Bereshith now), I think of how blessed I am that because Abraham had the courage to be different, had the courage to channel his mind to his heart, I, too, have learned to channel my mind to my heart. And in doing so, I’ve come to recognize just how blessed I’ve been that I’ve let it all touch me in the deepest and highest ways, and that in my doing so it has healed me and restored me and given back myself…

…and mostly it’s given me the courage to open to the greatest truth that my mind really does know many things, but the real and genuine truth: that ‘אמת’ – emeth can only be found in and through the heart.

So you see, it’s not about beating around bushes, Mike. It’s not about mentally justifying or seeking validation for whatever we imagine we think we know what it’s all about. Abraham already answered all this for us. “Run it through your heart, through your deepest inner heart. If it holds true there, it’s true.” And in our being genuine Gerim, we know thoroughly that this is what conversion really is, right…because if it isn’t, why would we waste our lives with something that’s not true for us.

As we all know, the truth that Abraham brought into the world so long ago has never ceased to resound in men’s hearts. He literally shaped the course of mankind, and with his doing so Abraham gave over to all of us “Believing in God means we want to do it together and that we want it all to come together.”

Abraham’s ‘it’s not about me; it’s about you’ means ‘it’s about us’.

Shabbat Shalom,

Daniel Eliezer

[*]’אמת’ - emeth is really indefinable other than perhaps in saying that by experiencing it is the closest we can come to the Divine or Source of All Being. Great people like Abraham and so forth are on a prodigious level where they live in the reality of ‘אמת’ - emeth. Little people like myself are only on the transient occasion blessed to grasp a taste or fragrance of it.

Sophistication means “I never let anything touch me inside.”
Back to top Go down
mikedoyleblogger

avatar

Posts : 104
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 46
Location : Chicago, IL

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:06 pm

Daniel, many of our American Jewish forebears--traditional, immigrant Jews living in the United States in the mid-to-late 1800s and early 1900s, put up trees to celebrate the "December holiday." Not necessarily Jewish trees, mind you, but full-on Santa & snowmen Christmas trees. At the time, it was seen as a way for their first-generation Jewish children to not feel left out during the surrounding culture's holiday festival. This is verified in published research, and we're talking about thousands and thousands of fresh-off-the-shtetl families who by your estimation would be "confused" about their Jewish identities for doing so. In their estimation, however, a tree was just a tree, and I happen to agree with them.
Back to top Go down
http://www.chicagocarless.com
Dena

avatar

Posts : 678
Join date : 2011-09-05
Age : 34

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:13 pm

One of my questions is why do we need to make sure Jewish children don't feel left out during Christmas? It's not our holiday. Given all the Jewish holidays I wouldn't think we need one more to celebrate anyway. Laughing
Back to top Go down
Bee

avatar

Posts : 314
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:19 am



Daniel did you write this or is this an excerpt? It is beautiful and almost poetic. Thank you for sharing.
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: secular holidays   

Back to top Go down
 
secular holidays
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 2Go to page : 1, 2  Next

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
 :: Jewish Life :: Society and Culture-
Jump to: