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Oct 30 2014

The Jewish Case of Halloween Envy

By at 9:47 am

halloween envy

Christmas envy has been well documented. There are many Jews who are less than subtle about their yuletide longings: the lights are shimmery and sparkly, that tree smells fantastic, the music is just so very merry, and who doesn’t want an eggnog latte? Many of us have made our peace with the little bits of the all-encompassing Christmas barrage that we have come to love–I myself feel like I can have my Bing Crosby and eat it, too. But this time of year there’s another sort of envy happening in Jewish necks of the woods: Halloween envy, or as I like to call it, Halloweenvy.

Unlike Christmas, Halloween isn’t technically a Christian holiday, and therefore, it’s harder to avoid. Of course, many Jews, or probably most Jews, celebrate Halloween. There are, however, Jews who believe that Halloween is an idolatrous, pagan holiday, and that as such, celebrating it is not only not our custom, but it’s actually against Jewish law. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 11 2014

Navigating the Elementary School Politics of Valentine’s Day

By at 10:49 am


My first experience with Valentine’s Day was a perplexing one.

At the age of 7, I arrived in the United States (from the Soviet Union) with my parents on January 19. I started school. Less than a month later, everyone in my class gave me a flurry of pink and red cards, some of them heart-shaped. I didn’t have anything for my classmates, and I didn’t exactly know what was going on, in any case. So I came home and taped the cards up on my bedroom walls, like decorations. For the rest of the school year, people would periodically give me other cards, this time not necessarily in pink or red or heart-shaped, but looking enough like the first set that I dutifully went home and taped them to my walls, too. It wasn’t until I learned to speak (then read) English, that I realized the latter were birthday party invitations I had never responded to, and that the former were for something called St. Valentine’s Day.

It was a Jewish Day School, by the way, but, in subsequent years, I got with the program, never giving a lot of thought to what the whole experience is like from a parental point of view.

I’m a parent now. And here is something else I’ve learned about Valentine’s Day. It is even more complicated than I could have possibly imagined. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 20 2014

Seven Things to Tell Your Kids About Martin Luther King, Jr.

By at 7:45 am


How do you get your kids to understand the meaning of a holiday, and not just the fact that they get a day off from school? Well, we were wondering the same thing, so we asked our readers on Facebook to share how they were planning on translating the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to their kids.

Here are the five most thoughtful answers we received to help you celebrate MLK Jr. Day with your kids in a meaningful way:

1. Make them listen to his “I have a dream” speech. It’s wonderfully captivating!

2. There is a great book called My Brother Martin, written for young kids by MLK’s sister. It is beautiful and well written. I heartily recommend it!

3. I told my kids that MLK was a person who wanted everybody to be friends. Some people don’t think everybody should be friends; they think you should only be friends with people who are like you. But he really wanted everyone in the world to be friends with each other, even if they were different. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 12 2013

Why We Don’t Celebrate Mother’s Day, but Do Celebrate Father’s Day

By at 10:00 am

father's dayI have never liked having a fuss made over me. I skipped both my high school and my college graduation ceremonies because I didn’t see a point to the long-winded, tedious ritual (held outside in the heat, no less). My husband and I got married at City Hall, because I felt the same way about weddings. (Maybe I inherited the trait from my own mother. Whenever we go to a friend’s wedding, she always tells my husband and I, “Thank you so much for not putting me through this.”)  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 14 2013

Should Jews Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

By at 9:33 am

heart shaped waffles for valentines dayI’ve never had a theological problem with Valentine’s Day. It was never a big deal in my family and my husband and I never really made a big deal about it in our relationship (though on Valentine’s Day 2004 he did give me TiVo. Best present ever!).  And since our kids all attended JCC preschools where it was not acknowledged, we didn’t even have to deal with it until our oldest started kindergarten at a public school.

And that is what got me thinking: is Valentine’s Day an appropriate celebration for Jews? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 14 2012

When Your Toddler is Your Valentine

By at 11:35 am

pink valentine's day cookiesGrowing up, I was always giddy about Valentine’s Day. Yes it was totally awesome to wrap up a shoe box in sparkly pink paper and have prepubescent boys shove little notes in that said stuff like, “I like your hair” or, “Want to share my cheese?” But my parents always went out of their way to make me feel special on Valentine’s Day and that’s what I looked forward to the most. Read the rest of this entry →


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