Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
The holiday spirit is here, and I’ll be celebrating Hanukkah this week to its fullest. My family will pause to light the candles of our menorah, fry up some latkes, and attend a few parties to give our traditions its fair share of merriment. I even managed to some great photos of the baby’s first Hanukkah with with his hands sweetly gripping his new collection of dreidels/chew toys. Once the last candle is lit, our family will dive into the Jingle Bell bonanza that is the last few weeks of the year, celebrating with our friends and family.
But I had a renewed sense of pride when I came across a great post from one of my favorite new blogs, New Orleans Mom Blog, about the top five reasons to teach your children about Judaism. I figured it was by another Southern Jewish mom, talking about the “December dilemma” and making space for Jewish traditions. But Ashley is not Jewish, nor is her son — and her post was instead inspired by a menorah picture her son brought home from a school activity.
She’s is a mom who wants her “children to know that they live in a world where their family’s way of celebrating is not the only way to celebrate.” She goes on to say “I want my children to understand that their beliefs aren’t everyone’s beliefs, and while I want them to be confident in what they believe, I also want them to be open-minded enough to consider other ideas and perspectives.” For those of us who peruse the “mom blogs” for tips and tricks of the trade, this solid piece of wisdom on how to thoughtfully facilitate new experience for our children really resonated with me, both as a Jewish educator and as a mom.
You can read her post here, as she shares her own perspective on how she approaches new topics with her kids. As Ashley says: “…we don’t HAVE to know all of the answers to all of the things … but I do think we ought to teach our kids to be curious about the unfamiliar.” And the post turned me on to an adorable new holiday song called “Here in My House” about all different types of holiday lights on our homes!
I’m happy to share her post in hope that many moms will read it and add a little more holly and jolly to this festive time of year by taking the time to share some Hanukkah spirit with their kids this week. I know I’ll be making sure that my Jewish son is aware of all of the other beautiful traditions that his friends and neighbors celebrate, even if they’re not the ones that are “ours.”
Happy holidays to all!
Pronounced: KHAH-nuh-kah, also ha-new-KAH, an eight-day festival commemorating the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks and subsequent rededication of the temple. Falls in the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually corresponds with December.
Pronounced: muh-NOHR-uh, Origin: Hebrew, a lamp or candelabra, often used to refer to the Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah.