Who Celebrates What: On the Lollipop Man and the Coming Baby

HanukkahA few weeks ago, I blogged about my attempts to teach my 4-year-old to love and cherish our lives as Jews—and the traditions and beliefs that come with it—and at the same time understand, learn from, and respect the beliefs and practices of other people. In this case, I’ve been talking to her about holidays, and the fact that we celebrate some and not others, while different people have their own holidays that are theirs and not ours. Two incidents this weekend suggest that maybe it’s actually working, perhaps too much in one direction.

The first happened in synagogue. Every synagogue has a Lollipop Man, the old guy who hands out lollipops to every kid who approaches with an outstretched arm and a hopeful look in her face. The kids seem to instinctively know who the Lollipop Man is, even if they’re new in town, and the Lollipop Man is invariably fundamentalist about his mission, ignoring all parental entreaties  against handing more sugar to our children. On this particular Shabbat (Sabbath), my daughter was trolling for the Lollipop Man who gives out heart lollipops specifically (yes, we’re blessed with two Lollipop Men, only one of whom has the coveted heart-shaped ones). She was getting desperate, but alas, he was nowhere to be found. “Maybe he doesn’t celebrate this holiday,” she eventually said matter-of-factly, and dropped the subject entirely.

Then yesterday, my daughter was talking about her soon-to-arrive sibling, and raised a concern: “What if she is not Jewish? What if she celebrates different holidays than us?” We assured her that the baby would be Jewish like the rest of us, and we would all celebrate our holidays together.

Score one for universalism and respect for diversity. Maybe I need to emphasize the “tribal” part of the equation a little more!

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  1. by Kristin

    On November 16, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    As a new parent and also being a step mom to 3 older children, I find myself backing up your daughter’s question and curious for a good well explained answer. “What if she isnt Jewish?” or in my case “What if she isnt Christian?” I well understand that being Jewish is that childs birthright or ethnicity but I also understand judaism its practices to be a choice. What I am getting at is this: of course we raise our children in the way we wish them to follow, the way we believe to be right based on the word, but at some point they will make thier own choices and form thier own opinions and beliefs. Now my own daughter I may be more at ease answering that question, but my step daughter who I did not help raise up to this point, is another story. I dont love her any less and want whats right and good for her, however I feel it would be counter effective to dictate to a teenager what she should believe. She may make an alternate choice. One day, even after being raised in the word and being taught our beliefs and traditions my own could ultimately choose a different path.

    Hmmm?? Maybe I just answered my own question. I know I will love my baby girl no matter what. Its just a little disturbing to know that one day when shes all grown up and out in the world I wont be the only one teaching and influincing her.

    I se I didnt leave much of a question, but I would love to hear what you have to say to all that.