The Jewish Mom's Christmas Tree

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Photo courtesy of Flickr.com user Hodgers



My favorite blog, Motherlode, posted a tragic article this week. All about a Jewish mother and why she really wants to get a Christmas tree. The weirdest part is that this is supposed to be funny.

Read it and weep, Jewish mom.
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10 comments

  1. Kol hakavod for weighing in. I also commented. Here’s what I said:

    My mom is Jewish and my dad is not. The home they created was Reform-affiliated and strongly Jewish. One part of that was a real excitement and investment in the Jewish holidays. The twinkle of December’s lights paled in comparison to the thrill of building and decorating a hut in our backyard and then living in it for a week during Sukkot!

    A watered-down Xmas is no competition for authentic, meaning-imbued Jewish living. It’s only when Judaism is stripped of its soul and flavor that someone else’s culture and religion look appealing.

  2. Drudgegrunt

    Interesting…do either of you celebrate St. Valentines Day?

  3. It is only those devoted Jews who have clarity to be pro-active and loving who can reach out and tell these kinds of people how to understand their own Judaism to be proud and how to be involved. Remember, these people don’t have their Jewish communities (usually), dont have relatives and friends to give them that support to be Jewish and to learn about true Judaism. Therefore, it goes back to those who will reach out, and eventually, G-d willing, No Jew will be Left Behind, and they will all be reached with the way to get to their own Jewish roots.
    There are so many ways to reach someone.
    Our friends bought a used couch on Craigs List (or one of those lists) and it was from a Jewish couple, who actually lowered their price for them. The couple bought a Kosher recipe book as a thankyou to them for lowering their price, and invited them to come visit their home.
    Sometimes we can find the opportunity to reach another Jew and then we as a Jewish people become more whole, with one more Jew back in with us!

  4. I understand the mom in the article and think the only sad part is that her son has to deal with his parents’ divorce, although they sound very mature and civil. Everything need not be black and white.

    My daughter loves Passover, Chanukah, and the Sukkah tent that’s been taking up substantial square footage in her room for months. She likes lighting Shabbat candles and loves her amazing religious school and was disappointed recently when we kept her home with the sniffles.

    She also attends an amazing school that promotes religious and cultural diversity, where multiple holidays are taught, celebrated, honored and respected. One of her Christian classmates told his mom he wanted to celebrate Chanukah – as long as it didn’t mean giving up Christmas.

    My daughter wants a little bit of Christmas — no matter how magical and exciting we make Chanukah. This doesn’t mean she wants to give up Chanukah or any other aspect of Judaism. It’s completely natural that children would be attracted to a holiday with presents and cool decorations and a kind, jolly old man. I wanted a piece of it when I was a kid, even though my parents went all out to make Chanukah great, built us a great sukkah, lit Shabbat candles and made wonderful Passover seders.

    It doesn’t mean that Jewish kids who want this are ready to convert to Christianity, or that the parents who cave and let a little of the more secular Christmas accoutrements into their homes are selling their Jewish souls.

    The mom in the article sounds like a good mother — a good, thoughtful, Jewish mother — trying to make her children happy. That some may disagree with her choices here doesn’t make her less so.

  5. What a depressing article. A sign of the times, I guess.

  6. Why does everyone try to make Chanukah a magical substitute for XMas???? It’s Shabbat, my friends, that holds the magic and which keeps me (an Orthodox convert) from missing even the smallest Xmas tradition. Every Single Week Jews get the warm, magic, family feeling that is the real reason Xmas is so beloved. Shabbat.

  7. Oy. This NYTimes blog was exhausting. So, in a few words, the long view from a Bubby who was once a young mom who was once a young girl. The greatest gift we can give our children and grandchildren is a sense of where they come from, who they are, and how that should inform the choices they make in life. I was humbled by the conversation I had with my younger daughter yesterday, in which she confided that she never thought raising a child religiously would matter that much to her…until little Shusha Matel was born 4 months ago. Now she gets it.

  8. Lisa Diamond Stein

    I spent the last 23 years raising 2 jewish children in a Reform (and later Conservative) affiliated Jewish home.

    We celebrated and reveled in the traditions of Passover, Chanukah, and Sukkot. We observed the High Holy Days , lit the candles every shabbat and we celebrated my son’s Bar Mitzvah in Israel while my daughter chose to have her celebration stateside.

    We never lived in a Jewish community, but we lived a Jewish life by making the holidays and traditions of our ancestors exciting and meaningful. My kids never questioned why their friends celebrated Christmas and we didn’t. They were invited over to their friends home to ‘trim the tree’ and never wished they had one.

    Judiasm was a way of life and my kids understood that.

    As Chaya so eloquently put it, It’s only when Judaism is stripped of its soul and flavor that someone else’s culture and religion look appealing.

  9. So Tragic- yet so popular…I get into this bubble sometimes that evreyone Jewish, whether observant or not – we are all part of Clal Yisroel, and then this article bursted that bubble of oneness, because there so much acceptance and no borders that define identity – independence, this “go with the flow” attitude of “everything is acceptable” and taking these poor helpless young Jewish souls for a rollercoaster ride of lost identity – and letting them lose their minds as well as faith to become worst parents than they are. I also barked at the guy selling chrismas trees and ornaments outside Tiv Taam in Ashdod yesterday- mind you that this supermarket sells pork and is open year round- I just said why? why are you here? go to Nazareth or somewhere people need this stuff… Poor mislead Israeli children and youth buy these things and think its funny or “American” and therefore cool and worst of all -“acceptable” .

  10. My husband and our family are Eastern Orthodox. I have become convinced that X wasn’t who he said he was. Today, X-mas Eve, is wonderful. We have been baking and carrying on the tradition, but I am not comfortable. I happen to have been baking challah to klezmer X-mas carols. Xmas and Hanuka don’t mix, but they have to reside under one roof. It’s very frustrating.

    For the lady in the article’s daughter’s sake, I wish she’d let her son celebrate December 25 at his dad’s house.

    Peace Tree? Pah!

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