Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Happy Holidays

Today I started planning our Thanksgiving dinner, and I couldn't be more excited.  Thanksgiving stands as one of my favorite holidays, American, Israeli, Jewish and otherwise.  In my mind it represents all those family gatherings at my grandmother's Z"L, the amazing smell when you walked in the door, the annual fight over which movie to see, the Macy's Day parade and the time spent bonding with cousins.

Living in Israel, we mostly ignore the American and the non-Jewish holidays, New Year's comes and goes without notice, except that I know that I will have to prepare my annual taxes around that time.  This year, however, Raphaela seems to have taken more notice of the global community.

She asked me why we don't celebrate Halloween, and I told her that we have Purim instead; I didn't mention that Halloween commemorates pogroms against Jews.  I remember, growing up in New York as a child how we spent that night:  we locked all the doors and windows, and closed the shades.  When the door bell rang, we ignored it, and the next morning, we hoped that the area where we lived had not been vandalized in any major way.  It was the one night out of the year that our quietly anti-Semitic neighbors had full reign.

It has apparently changed, evidenced by the huge amount of friends on Facebook - those of the Jewish faith and of all levels of religiosity- who posted pictures of their family fully costumed and celebrating Halloween on some level.

As far as Christmas, Raphaela thinks that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny are fast friends of Diego and Dora, as they appear on the (Hebrew translated) cartoon to deliver presents and rescue animals.  Every year I go to a Christmas classic music/carols concert at the International YMCA in Jerusalem, but have not taken Raphaela because she cannot stay up that late into the night.  When she gets older, I may give her the option of coming with me instead of staying home with a baby sitter, though I doubt she will know the words to any of the Christmas carols or Handel's Messiah.

(The Tooth Fairy, however, is real.)

Our Chanukah rituals revolve around candle lighting with friends and family, eating doughnuts and taking day trips, rather than the rampant materialism that characterizes the season.  I am grateful to raise my daughter that way.

Ask any parent of children in Israel and they will say that there is far too much vacation from school for Jewish holidays as it is, we don't need to add in the other religions to the mix.

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