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Isn't it pretty?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Chanukah season

Being one of the few (or only) Jewish students in my classes growing up, it was always deemed my responsibility to educate my classmates about Judaism. Whenever any Jewish holidays rolled around, and actually, when non-Jewish holidays arrived also, I got lots of questions. Lots of contrasts were drawn between Jewish and Christian holidays. Traditions were traded, presents were compared and stories were told. The time of the year when these education sessions became the most prominent was always around Chanukah. Chanukah was always a hard time of year for me. When young, the hard part came in feeling left out when we inevitably made Christmas projects to take home. I was either left to make whatever kind of project I desired, or made exempt from the project. Whichever choice I made, I couldn't fit in with the rest of the class. Christmas songs were sung in choir, the better years the majority of the songs revolved around winter rather than Christianity, a token Chanukah song sometimes made it into the rotation. But this time of year also held a fun element. Each year when I was in elementary school, my parents would come in during Chanukah, sometimes with the one or two other Jewish parents of students in my grade. All the students in my grade would get together and my parents would tell them the Chanukah story of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil in the Beis Hamikdash. My parents would bring in menorahs to light, dreidles to spin, and would fry latkes for everyone to taste. I always felt special during this presentation, because I knew the information that my parents were presenting, and I often got to help in the demonstration. I always got positive comments from my classmates about how interesting the story was, and how lucky I was to celebrate eight nights of Chanukah rather than one day of Christmas. To me, it was about being proud of my difference and sharing it with my classmates and friends. For an afternoon during that winter season, I didn't feel left out, I felt honored.


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