Dec 16 2014
“We get twice the presents!”
Most interfaith kids will utter this classic, and rather obnoxious, boast at some point during childhood. And I have to admit, it makes me wince and grit my teeth a little. As an interfaith child myself, I understand all too well that bragging about Christmas and Hanukkah gifts can be a defense mechanism, designed to dazzle and deflect those who view interfaith families with skepticism and disapproval. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 15 2014
Around this time of year, I start seeing Christmas lights go up on neighbors’ houses; they’re beautiful, and I appreciate their sparkling beauty. I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t say that I also see things that make me see red, which we can file under the general heading of “Ways To Make Hanukkah More Like Christmas.” From pictures of “Hanukkah bushes” to gingerbread hanukkiyot to “Elf on a Shelf” knockoffs (ahem!), it seems like many people want Hanukkah to be more like Christmas.
Why are people trying to turn a Jewish holiday about religious freedom…into Christmas? Christmas is a beautiful holiday, but you know something? It is not my holiday, and that’s OK. Moreover, I don’t want Hanukkah to become some weird knockoff Christmas–nor should it. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 12 2014
It’s no secret that Jews have a special Christmas tradition of our own–eating Chinese food, or course! Which is why Soy Vay, a delicious Asian sauce company started by a Jewish boy and a Chinese girl, is offering the ultimate gift package to help you cook your own Chinese cuisine this Christmas Eve. We’re teaming up with our foodie friends, The Nosher, to give away this epic gift package to 10 (that’s right, 10!) lucky winners.
The gift package includes:
-$50 grocery delivery gift card
-$25 Netflix gift card
-Soy Vay products: Veri Veri Teriyaki, Island Teriyaki, and Hoisin Garlic
-Soy Vay recipe cards: Veri Veri Teriyaki Saucy Vegetable Chow Mein, Island Teriyaki Mango Chicken, and Hoisin Garlic Beef and Asparagus Stir-fry
-Decorations for the Christmas Eve parties including paper lanterns, chopsticks, and toys/games (Mahjong and Dreidel) Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 11 2014
This is the year I’m changing my attitude about Hanukkah. Why? Because for the past 10 years, which is as long as I’ve been a parent, I’ve been a Hanukkah downer.
“Hanukkah is my least favorite holiday,” I’ve said and written countless times. Considering some of the other Jewish holidays I’ve embraced with passion like Yom Kippur and Sukkot, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get on board with Hanukkah. What’s not to like about lighting the menorah with family and friends, playing dreidel, eating latkes and sufganiyot, and giving and receiving presents?
Speaking of presents, the first task I have to accomplish if I’m going to enjoy Hanukkah is to eliminate my need to protect Hanukkah from Christmas. Nobody hired me for that job, and I’m hereby retiring from the self-appointed position of reminding people that Hanukkah is a minor holiday. I’ve put so much energy into making sure my kids know Hanukkah is not Christmas that I’ve lost sight of what Hanukkah is or could be. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 4 2014
Recently, the woman behind the blog XO, Isabel got in touch with us with the above image and following message:
Proud of my nephew, Sammy. His teacher gave his class a writing assignment to do a “Dear Santa” letter and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Given that he’s Jewish, he had the choice to either not do the assignment, citing his beliefs, or to have a little fun. I’m glad he chose to have a little fun.
We’re proud of you too, Sammy. And we really hope you get the Infinity Version 2.0 Marvel Superheroes Edition. And that Santa joins in on the fun.
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Dec 1 2014
Growing up, ours was the only house on the block with a menorah glowing in the window. This should have put me onto the fast track to Christmas envy, but it didn’t. I respected Christmas, but was never jealous of those who celebrated. In fact, watching my neighbors actually gave me a deeper appreciation for the simpler joys of Hanukkah. Here’s why:
1. Early-Bird Shopping.
Celebrating Hanukkah means I usually have an earlier gift-buying deadline to meet than my counterparts. I have to get myself in gear way before Christmas shopping madness descends on the rest of the world. By Thanksgiving, I’m usually done. I spend most Black Fridays sipping spiced cider and recovering from a turkey-induced coma. Being Jewish means never having to freeze my tuchus off in a parking lot, waiting for a “Midnight Door Buster” sale.
2. Decorating Ease. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 2 2014
School just started here. With my boys starting first and fourth grade, I’m reminded of when I moved to this small town in 1986, when I was 7 years old. We moved from East Brunswick, New Jersey to Lake Mary, Florida.
Lake Mary is a charming, beautiful suburb of Orlando. It was recently named one of the top 10 places to live for families in Family Circle Magazine. I have no complaints about my parents’ decision to move here. But we might have been among the first Jews to move in. My Jewish family up North was so certain that we were being moved to the actual “Bible Belt” that they mistakenly referred to it as “Saint Mary.”
Although my parents aren’t very observant, they were acutely aware that it would be a bit of a culture shock to move from a state where Jews were everywhere to a place where we had to travel 30 minutes to find a theater that played the latest Woody Allen movie. Looking back, I think they handled it really well. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 10 2014
I’m a Jew-by-choice. But my conversion to Judaism wasn’t voluntary. When I was about 4 or 5, my Catholic parents converted and took me and my siblings along with them.
I don’t have a great recollection of the process. I vaguely remember the mikveh, which just seemed like a trip to the pool. I remember standing in front of the congregation as our conversion was announced. But that’s about it.
But while I don’t really remember the conversion itself, my experiences growing up as a converted Jew were instructive. Indeed, considering every adult should be free to choose his or her own religious path, choosing to alter your child’s path requires additional consideration. Here are some things to consider before converting your children. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 7 2014
Zach Braff’s new movie “Wish I Was Here“ gives us plenty to talk about here at Kveller–the film covers everything from the (too high) tuition of Jewish day school to dealing with aging parents. But there was one aspect that was impossible to ignore: among its cadre of impressive actors is Josh Gad, perhaps best known for his voiceover work as the snowman Olaf from Frozen. I was lucky enough to sit down with Gad–a Jewish dad himself–and talk about life as a famous snowman.
Are your kids obsessed with Frozen?
My 3-month-old doesn’t know what the word “frozen” is, let alone the movie. But my 3.5-year-old is obsessed, like the rest of the world.
And she knows that you play Olaf?
She knows I’m Olaf. What’s interesting is that I never needed to tell her I was Olaf. I took her to go see “Monster’s University,” the first movie she ever saw, and they played a teaser for “Frozen,” and it featured me as Olaf, laughing. There was no dialogue. She looks up at the screen and she goes, “Daddy?” She was 2.5 at the time, and I literally turned away and was like, “Yeah, it’s me,” as I started crying. I was like, I can’t deal with this. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 30 2013
My father-in-law is the vice president of an evangelical missionary organization. Yes, evangelism. I know… that word has made me shiver a bit too. If I were to write a sitcom about our family dynamic we would get feedback that it’s unbelievable that the Jewish girl’s in-laws are missionaries… but they are. Truth.
When things started getting serious with my now husband and I, we both had conversations with each set of our parents about our feelings for one another and each other’s religions. We chatted with my parents in my aunt and uncle’s living room when my man and I were on Long Island for Passover. We discussed that while we would return annually to read from the haggadah and play with the four question finger puppets, my guy wasn’t giving up the big JC just because he was opening the door for Elijah.
And we talked to his parents while we were driving to lunch in Minnesota. Very strange to be looking at the back of someone’s head when you’re telling them you won’t be converting to their religion. Read the rest of this entry →