Yeah. Me neither.
No one thinks about Hannukah. No one talks about it or sings about it, or makes claymation shows about it. (although these Yeshiva U. guys did make a great video about it.) And all that lack of attention to Hannukah makes my kids feel like outcasts.
Think about it, there are no songs about Hannukah being the most wonderful time of the year, no movies about mean people becoming nice when they find the Hannukah spirit, no jolly old men (old Jewish men aren’t – by genetic predisposition -jolly) in bright red suits. And, of course, no tree. We’ve got a candelabra. Oooh!
My daughter, especially, complains every year throughout “the holiday season” (who are they kidding? they mean CHRISTMAS season) that “nobody cares.” And I can see her point. Every commercial talks about Christmas Shopping, every store window has Christmas decorations, every time you turn around it’s Christmas this and Christmas that. There’s the token “Happy Hannukah” or the generic and meaningless “Happy Holidays” tossed in there too, but let’s face it: Christmas Rules; Hannukah drips wax on your table.
The worst of it came earlier this week when my kids and I watched Glee. Or should I say we watched A Very Special Glee Christmas. Because the entire show featured everyone – even the purportedly Jewish characters, donning green and red and singing Christmas songs.
Glee is my daughter’s favorite show. She is obsessed. She loves it. But this episode made her cry.
Glee’s Christmas Spectacular of an episode made her realize just how out of the popular consciousness Hannukah, and therefore Judaism is. “Everything is Christmas!” she cried and cried. “No one cares! Nobody cares about Hannukah!” And so she felt that no one cared about her – in the deepest sense of who she is.
Hannukah is not, truth be told, a particularly significant Jewish Holiday. It is a historic, rather than religious one. So it isn’t so much about Hannukah itself, as about NOT being part of Christmas. (And please don’t tell me I should celebrate it because it’s American – not really Christian. It’s Jesus’ birthday.)
Part of me thinks “She had to find out sometime.” Living in New York, she thinks that Jews are everywhere. When my kids were three, and going to a Jewish nursery school, we were trying to cross town on Saint Patrick’s Day. “Why is it so busy?” asked my son. “Is it Purim?”
Yeah. Purim is why thousands of people descend on the city, get drunk, and throw up here. Though I guess the getting drunk and puking part kind of does describe Purim.
The point is, at some point, the reality is going to set it: Jews are such a small percentage of the US and World population as to not even be a blip on the consciousness of most Americans.
But another part of me wants her to feel that being Jewish matters. I want her to feel a part of a 5,000+ year old culture and community (and religion, but that’s less my personal focus.) I don’t want her to think of her Jewishness as something that nobody cares about. Or to be something she doesn’t care about.
So how about this? When the Glee crowd does their holiday episode next year, Rachel and Puck (well, they’re graduating – but whatever) mention that they don’t happen to celebrate Christmas. They don’t say things like “best Christmas ever!” They can join in the holiday fun. They can sing carols for all I care, but at least acknowledge who they are. And not just for comic effect.
Maybe Puck can even sing another Neil Diamond song.