Posts Tagged ‘ judaism ’

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

Monday, November 15th, 2010

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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Christmas vs. Hanukkah, Round 1

Monday, October 25th, 2010

HanukkahThanks to the PBS show Caillou, my daughter, who is almost 4, knows all about Christmas–about Santa, Christmas trees, presents, and caroling.  Thanks to my wife and me and some quick counter programming on our part, Adira also knows all about Hanukkah, about the candles and presents and foods. She also knows that we don’t celebrate Christmas but her babysitter does, and that Santa is pretend, for everyone and not just us.

And so it begins. Thanks a lot, Caillou. I was entirely unprepared for a DVD from the library called “Winter Wonders” featuring an otherwise bland, bald kid (whose name is not Charlie Brown) to bring Christmas into our home. In  October, no less. But that’s parenting. We don’t get to choose the timing.

I am not squeamish about differences and diversity.  I’m the observant Jew who studied religious pluralism at a divinity school, and who’s written about everything from Hare Krishnas to Mormons to evangelicals.  The last thing I want is to bring my daughter up in a world where she thinks everyone behaves and believes as we do, or looks down on those who don’t. Well… maybe that’s the second-to-last thing I want–the very last being bringing her up in a world where she doesn’t understand, appreciate, and love our own tradition and heritage, and in which she is jealous or angry that we don’t do as others do. (more…)

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