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An essay on the parenting of the jews

Instead, he arrives in late fall, usually by way of the Target catalog and the television set.

Building a Jewish Library

And if you are a little Jewish kid confronting old St. Nick for the first time via Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, or the 1966 animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmasyou may find yourself with a lot of questions.

In the way of 5-year-old boys everywhere, he follows that one up with "Mom, if Santa and Judah the Maccabee got in a fight, who would win? One needn't be virulently anti-Christmas to experience the seasonal anxiety felt by parents who want their children to enjoy the winter holidays while avoiding religious indoctrination.

  1. A Guide to Dating and Marriage Enrichment. Hadassah presents essays on Jewish education, intermarriage, adoption, divorce, death, becoming a grandparent, adolescent separation, and other topics of current importance.
  2. But ask them why these movies pass muster and prepare for whomping exhibitions of illogic as only the People of the Book can practice it. In the way of 5-year-old boys everywhere, he follows that one up with "Mom, if Santa and Judah the Maccabee got in a fight, who would win?
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  4. Jewish kids of my generation were permitted to watch one or all of.
  5. Nearly everyone who wrote to me explained that the Boris Karloff version of the Grinch was "a classic.

That's what makes parenting Jewish kids at Christmastime such a fraught proposition. Jewish women who as children were whisked away to Jewish vacation resorts in Florida marry Jewish men who hung Hanukkah stockings next to a Hanukkah bush, alongside the plate of gefilte fish they'd left out for Santa.

It's hard enough reconciling two deeply held versions of the Jewish holidays. Just try blending two deeply held traditions regarding the noncelebration of Christmas. My husband, on the other hand, tells me he grew up with unfettered access to the whole panoply of animated Christmas specials. When we discussed this for the first time last weekend, I gasped: But there are few winter holiday movies that speak to all religions.

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  • We Can Get Along;
  • His suggestions are provocative and worth considering;
  • It stresses kindness, respect, tolerance and responsibility.

So last week I sent out an e-mail and posted on Facebookasking Jewish friends how they decided on the permissibility of the Christmas television specials.

The responses were amazing. Overwhelmingly, the consensus was this: Jewish kids of my generation were permitted to watch one or all of: Therefore, their children are also allowed to watch them. But ask them why these movies pass muster and prepare for whomping exhibitions of illogic as only the People of the Book can practice it.

I learned this week that there exists an unspoken "no Jesus" rulea "no Santa" rule thus no Rudolpha "no saints" rule thus no Night Before Christmas ,a "no resurrections" rule even if it's resurrection by proxy; thus no Frostyand also a "no bad music" rule thus no Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special.

Perhaps my favorite e-mail laying out a Unified Theory of Jewish Christmas Viewing drew the line thus: This despite the fact that the classic ends with Linus Van Pelt earnestly reciting from Luke 2: For behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

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  • Jewish women who as children were whisked away to Jewish vacation resorts in Florida marry Jewish men who hung Hanukkah stockings next to a Hanukkah bush, alongside the plate of gefilte fish they'd left out for Santa;
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  • Or to limit our kids' Christmas viewing to movies featuring charming yet bitter protagonists bent on blocking, suppressing, or hiding from it.

And this shall be a sign unto you. Indeed, if there is a more profoundly Jewish line than Linus' "How can you take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem? Many Jewish kids I heard from were permitted to watch the Grinch every year, yet somehow nobody including my parents is able to explain why this is so.

Nearly everyone who wrote to me explained that the Boris Karloff version of the Grinch was "a classic. But dig a little deeper and what surfaces is a universal and discomfiting sense that the Grinch is a fundamentally Jewish show because the Grinch himself is a fundamentally Jewish character.

A Jewish parent's guide to Christmas specials.

A fair point, perhaps, but why do Jewish parents want to be pushing this peculiarly self-loathing vision of the bitter old Jewish man on their kids? Do we drag our kids to see The Merchant of Venice? If anything, the weird Grinch-as-old-Jew notion would seem to suggest that of all things Jewish kids should not be watching at Christmastime, the Seussian classic tops the list.

Again, the show clearly violates the "No Santa" rule, and yet nearly everyone I spoke to grandfathered it in as Jewishly acceptable. Yet it's hard not to wonder again whether there's something about the grouchy, bitter misers—misers!

Ultimately, most Jewish parents wrestling with what to let their kids watch at Christmastime seemed really to be coping with their own remembered feelings of exclusion. That's why this may be the single greatest Jewish Christmas song ever written.

Christmas Specials: A Jewish Parent's Guide

It may also explain why little Jewish kids get to watch so many shows in which Christmas almost doesn't happen—or about grouchy people who feel bitterly lacking in the Christmas spirit. No family strife or house full of cousins.

No long drives in crappy weather or worse plane rides. My parents are away, so no calls to fix their computer. Perhaps it is instructive that my 5-year-old's Judah the Maccabee story is a seamless and lengthy narrative of Hasmonean warriors, light sabers, and the spiritually redemptive powers of heat vision, such that tossing a Rudolph or Frosty into the mix will hardly dilute its already syncretic spiritual appeal.

This is not so much an argument for the great universalist Teddy Ruxpin Christmas display as a suggestion that the proper non-Christian response to Christmas joy is not to try to block, suppress, or hide from it. Or to limit our kids' Christmas viewing to movies featuring charming yet bitter protagonists bent on blocking, suppressing, or hiding from it.

And in doing so, I came across a good deal of material that may well have been more familiar to the Maccabee brothers than to Santa. Whatever a dentist is, I hope someday you will be the greatest!