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Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah

Tuesday, 17 November 2009
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I was recently tagged by Homeshuling to participate in a Jewish Mommy Meme. As we are now in the same month as Chanukah (Rosh Chodesh Kislev began this evening), I thought it was appropriate to share my responses.

One menorah, or several? Hillel or Shammai? (just kidding about that part)

My family had a tradition of lighting a ton of menorahs. But an unfortunate fire in the living room back in ’76 forced a downsizing. So in our home, there is one for each person that is lit and we have others scattered around as decoration.

Do you buy your children gifts for every night of Chanukah?

SO…when my parents got married, they brought two very different Chanukah traditions to the table. DadGiraffe came from a family that didn’t indulge in the assimilationist gift explosion that has come to define Chanukah. From his point-of-view, some nuts, a dreidel, perhaps a nice shirt. And that was the end of it. MomGiraffe, on the other hand, came from the tradition that a gift each night per child. DadGiraffe lost that one. Interestingly, I discovered just the other day that the Grands (MomGiraffe’s parents) had the very same experience when they got married!

I would be just as happy downplaying the whole gift thing, but old habits are hard to break. Since my family has a tradition of giving gifts each night and PC’s family has a tradition of a few gifts per person, it didn’t make sense to create a new tradition that would alienate us from BOTH families! So our children DO receive a gift each night by the time all is said and done.

Do you and your spouse/partner or any other adults in your life exchange gifts?

Yes, my husband and I do exchange gifts. So do all the adults on my side. On my husband’s side, the adult sibs don’t give gifts. Though I wish we did because I enjoy selecting gifts for people whom I love.

Special family Chanukah traditions?

My family has gotten together on the Saturday night of Chanukah since before I was born. GGma and DadGiraffe and I have the same machloket every year. Do we recite the Shehecheyanu or not? Typically, the Shehecheyanu is recited only on the first night of a holiday as a way to distinguish it from the other days of a festival. GGma holds that any time the family gets together, we should give thanks. DadGiraffe is a bit more traditional, but figures though it’s not required neither is it forbidden. And FrumeSarah??? Well, the name says it all!

Latkes or sufganiyot? If latkes, sour cream or applesauce?

Depends on whose house. GGma’s and PC’s mom’s latkes are accompanied by brisket. So applesauce is the appropriate condiment. MomGiraffe’s latkes are adorned with sour cream.

As for the the first part, I don’t understand the question. Latkes and sufganiyot are not mutally exclusive! PC’s mom always has sufganiyot as a chaser to the rest of the feast.

Favorite Chanukah book?

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket.

Do you actually play dreidl? If so, what do you use for counters?

Yes, we absolutely play dreidl. As far as the kids are concerned, lighting the chanukiah and opening presents are nice. But if we skip a night of dreidl, it’s as if we didn’t “do Chanukah” that night. When I young, GGma would give us each a bag that contained a dreidl, hazelnuts, some gelt, and an orange. With our kids, we use gelt and nuts. We also LOVE No Limit Texas Dreidel

What relationship, if any, do you have with Christmas and all things Christmas-y?

I LOVE Christmas music. And I prefer the more religious Carols such as “Adeste Fideles,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “O Holy Night,” etc. And while I expect that my children will become familiar with them at some point, I’m in no hurry. So I only listen to Christmas music when they are not in the car. I also enjoy watching Midnight Mass celebrated by the Holy See at St. eter’s Basilica. Though it drives me crazy that coverage actually begins not at midnight but at 11:35pm.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. homeshuling permalink
    Wednesday, 18 November 2009 4:39 am

    Glad you joined in.

    I’m curious, as “by us” rosh chodesh began monday night. Does the reform movement only recognize one day of a two day long rosh chodesh?

  2. Wednesday, 18 November 2009 10:14 am

    I totally laugh that YOU love Christmas music.

    Great answers!!!! 🙂

  3. Frume Sarah permalink*
    Wednesday, 18 November 2009 2:17 pm

    Homeshuling — thanks for tagging me! The additional day of Rosh Chodesh, like the Shlosh Regalim, is observed only by the Orthodox and Conservative movement in Chutz La-Aretz (outside the land of Israel). The Reform movement and all Jews in Israel observe the first day of the month as…the first day of the month.

    Phyl — I know, I know. But I have a strong choral background and always enjoyed the beautiful music.

  4. homeshuling permalink
    Wednesday, 18 November 2009 6:19 pm

    that’s quite interesting and surprising – inasmuch as the reason for 2 days of rosh chodesh is totally different than the reason for 2 days of yom tov – i had no idea (as an huc ed school dropout) that this was the custom of the reform movement.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 24 November 2009 10:57 pm

      The actual reason is different but the philosophy is the same; rationality. It just isn’t rational to refer to the last day of the month as “Rosh Chodesh.”

      Would love to hear your HUC drop-out story some time.

      • homeshuling permalink
        Wednesday, 25 November 2009 5:09 am

        It *was* kind of hard to explain to my first grade students!

        In a nutshell, I fell in love with text study, took a leave of absence, went to yeshiva for 2 years, and never made it back.

  5. Friday, 20 November 2009 4:21 am

    I enjoyed your machloket especially. I did this meme, too (I took it off Imabima’s site). It’s interesting how even Chanukah can have little family nuances.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 24 November 2009 10:59 pm

      I know!!! I love how we all approach this holiday with our own style and traditions. I hope that Homeshuling does this for EVERY holiday (hint, hint).

      As for the machloket…it’s now become tradition! We always have the discussion…and then we always do havdallah!

  6. Monday, 23 November 2009 9:28 am

    Very interesting to read about different families’ Chanukah traditions. I also posted about this, here. Stop and visit again!
    (Hey, am I not a cool Jewess too?!)

    (and, I would love to know what you had to learn in order to receive smicha-and discuss the issue of kol isha with you. Why don’t you email me…)

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 24 November 2009 11:00 pm

      I agree. I love to hear about the different traditions.

      You have given me a great idea for two future posts! One on Reform smicha and one on the issue (or non-issue, as the case may be) of kol isha in the Reform community.

      And yes, you are definitely a cool Jewess too!!!

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