Chanukah Guilt

Chanukah Guilt

I had big mother-children-fun plans for Chanukah. The zoo. The Kotel. A Chanukah performance or two.

But in the end, JewishMOMs plan, and G-d laughs.

Turned out having 8 kids home for a week and putting dinner on the table every night and having enough me-time to stay sane was a full-time job. I literally didn’t leave the house with any of my children all of Chanukah. And for much of Chanukah, I was feeling bad about it.

Right before Shabbat, after a Friday-morning spent getting ready for Shabbat with a bunch of kids underfoot, I desperately needed to spend some time out of the house on my own, so I went down to my favorite place to daven– the grave of the Zviller Rebbe zts”l across from the Supreme Court.

It’s pretty random, really. Why would a Baltimore-born Baalat Teshuva like me have a special connection with the Zviller Rebbe? But a few years ago, at the height of the Nachlaot Pedophile crisis, I decided to visit the Zviller Rebbe’s grave every Monday and Thursday for about 10 months. And the hope those visits gave me were one of the only things that kept me standing through that incredibly challenging period of my life.

Nowadays, I rarely go down to the Zviller Rebbe. But when I do go, I feel something I almost never feel anywhere else. I sit down near the grave, and begin to cry, hundreds of pounds of doubts and self-doubt and all-around blurriness melt away. I feel clarity like an electrical current.

And this past Friday, sitting at the grave, with perfect clarity I imagined I could see myself through Hashem’s eyes and I knew: I am trying my best to be a good wife and a good mother and keep mitzvot and keep (and my readers) afloat. AND THAT IS ENOUGH.

And this is what I thought of when last night I came across the following figures from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics and the Jerusalem Municipality.

The percentage of people who are not religious who say they are happy–26%.
The percentage of traditional people who say they are happy–31%.
The percentage of religious people who say they are happy–40%.
The percentage of very religious people who say they enjoy a high level of happiness–62%.

I know these statistics are meant to refer to different people with different religious outlooks.

But when I read this I thought how these definitions could all apply to me–at different times, depending on which eyes I’m using when I look at myself– my own non-religious judgmental eyes, or G-dly loving eyes from Above looking down.


  1. I always feel a personal happiness when you mention the Zviller Rebbe’s kever;)

  2. Thank you, Chana Jenny, for keeping us JewishMoms afloat… we appreciate it so much and yes, it is more than enough!

  3. Hi,
    I just wanted to let you know that I have been reading your blog for, I think, as long as you’ve had it. It is a place I go for encouragement, for inspiration and for your kind words. I check it almost every day for current postings and although you don’t know me, you have impacted my life as a Jewish woman and mother in a powerful way!! So I just wanted to say THANK YOU and please, to think of me and others like me that you are impacting in such a positive way, especially on those “not so clear” days. All the best.

  4. Although I have not been reading your blog from the beginning, yet, from the first time I discovered you – and all these Jewish moms, I considered it my most treasured internet connection. I am always encouraged and inspired here and want to take this moment to say thank you, Chana Jenny – not only to you, but also to all your dear readers that comment. No matter when I visit, I always leave with much more than I came with. Love you.

  5. Eight kids at home, put supper on the table and you are still in doubt? You are making me laugh, because when I go through this, I also think so of myself. But as an outsider I can only tell you this; You are one amazing JewishMom! Wow! You have outdone yourself for an entire week or more! Come to think of it, how would you look at anybody else telling this to you? We tend to believe that when WE do it, its so simple, nothing major and definitely not praiseworthy. We have a hobby to underestimate ourselves. That’s all! So, go ahead! Give yourself a good pat on the back. You are a wonderful JewishMom!
    P.S. You are allowed by the Shilchon Urich to treat yourself to a massage after such a week… okay?

  6. yes, I want to chime in with my appreciation as well, for your tireless efforts to inspire mothers around the world. Reading your posts at the end of a long day gives me a real pick me up. Thank you again for your vital work! Hindy

  7. I am also guilty of this mommy guilt! thank you so much for your website and your books, which are a constant source of inspiration, direction and wisdom for me. they always manage to uplift me and refocus me when i’m out of whack.
    why is the zviller rebbe buried there?? what a bracha to have such clarity. and I love that you took those statistics that seem to separate us and turned them into something that unites us – as children of Hashem who are striving to be better and happier human beings.

    • the zviller rebbe is buried in a graveyard there– it was used when jerusalem was divided between 48 and 67 I think, when there was no access to the mt. of olives.

  8. thank you! I always enjoy reading your blogs and find inspiration. My own children are mostly grown up and out of the house (youngest is 18 and away from home in yeshiva) but we never stop being a mom. Could you describe what the Mom. Thurs. Mon. segulah is all about. I am happy for you that you feel a close connection to a tzaddik. That is their main objective, serving Hashem and inspiring others to do the same.

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