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L’shanah Tovah?

Friday, 5 February 2010

In the spirit of cultural diversity, the kidlets’ school has decided to celebrate the Lunar New Year for the first time. Not Peach, of course, who attends a Jewish preschool…where they do Nouruz (Persian New Year) in addition to Rosh HaShannah.

Given that our school community is comprised of 36.5% Asian families, it makes sense. And since one of the reasons we endorsed public school was to educate them in an environment that is reflective of the world in which we live, being exposed to the New Year of other cultures is a very good thing.

[Plus, I can’t help but think that exposing the other scholars to this overall concept will make them more understanding of our New Year in Elul.]

I admit that I know NOTHING about the Lunar New Year. Absolutely nothing. I learned this very day that the Lunar New Year is misnamed.. A fact that occurred to me just last night because unlike the lunar-based Ramadan, which moves all around the year, the Lunar New Year seems always to fall around my birthday…give or take a week or two in either direction. (Hey, now that sounds kind of familiar.)

The Lunar New Year is, in fact, based on a lunisolar calendar. Not unlike our calendar. This calendar is often referred to as the Chinese calendar for it was the Chinese who perfected in around the year 500 BCE. The Lunar New Year, called Chinese New Year in English, is celebrated by many other Asian countries such as Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and Tibet.

In order for our celebration to be successful, we will accept any Chinese, Vietnamese, or Korean store bought food donations so the children can share the joy of the festival with their friends at school.

Well, I certainly hope that there are little placards by each dish in order to distinguish between the different cultural cuisines. After all, isn’t it just like a group of Anglos to bunch all the Asians together??

Please encourage your children to wear their traditional outfit to school on Friday, February 19, 2010.

Glaring grammatical problem aside, I find this request problematic. This was sent to every kid in the school. How ought we interpret it? I’m thinking peyos and a tallit katan for Beernut and maybe a long pleated skirt and woven Oxford blouse for Poppyseed. You??

Due to the complex rules of the Chinese language, I shall not attempt to use Chinese characters lest I make a major cultural faux pas. Instead, I extend the translation of the traditional greeting — Congratulations and Be Prosperous!


The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) since 1968, the Award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature. Gold medals are presented in three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers. Honor Books are awarded silver medals, and Notable Books are named in each category. Thirty-three outstanding books were selected from among the over one hundred and twenty titles evaluated by the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee during 2009. The Committee recommends them for library, classroom, and home use. List of all 2010 Award, Honor, and Notable Books.

You won’t want to miss one moment of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2010! Check out the Association of Jewish Libraries for up-to-date tour info.


Friday, February 5, 2010
Annika Thor, author of A Faraway Island
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Teen Reads

Friday, February 5, 2010
Ellen Frankel, author of The JPS Illustrated Bible for Children
Sydney Taylor Notable Book for All Ages
at Deo Writer

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 5 February 2010 10:53 am

    when my oldest was asked to wear something to school that illustrated his “heritage” he chose to wear a Cincinnati Bearcats shirt because, “I was born in Cincinnati, that’s where I come from!”

    We’ll keep working on it.

  2. Sunday, 7 February 2010 1:50 pm

    what an interesting post! i love the idea of kids being exposed to cultures and traditions that are prevalent in their own community. our own public school is planning an “around the world” celebration and i’m racking my brain for what to plan and wear. i like your ideas! 🙂

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