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