The December Dilemma

Hanukkah's proximity to Christmas has greatly affected the way the holiday is viewed.

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The answer to the child is incomplete. "We're Jewish--we have Hanukkah" is only the beginning of the response. "We're Jewish, and we have Hanukkah, Sukkot, Passover, Shavuot, Purim, Simchat Torah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Lag B'Omer, Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Tu B'shvat--and, most importantly, Shabbat every week." The child who has experienced thebuilding of a sukkah will not feel deprived of trimming a tree. The child who has participated in a meaningful Passover Seder will not feel deprived of Christmas dinner. The child who has paraded with the Torah on Simchat Torah, planted trees at Tu B'shvat, brought first fruits at Shavuot, given mishloah manot at Purim, and welcomed the Shabbat weekly with candles and wine and challah by the time s/he is three years old will understand that to be Jewish is to be enriched by a calendar brimming with joyous celebration.

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Dr. Ron Wolfson

Dr. Ron Wolfson is the Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University and the president of Synagogue 3000.