My [foster-to-almost-adopted] daughter, Clementine, is Jewish on her birth mom’s side and black Puerto Rican on her father’s side. In Jewish tradition, lineage is acknowledged along maternal lines. This makes Clementine 100% Jewish, in even the strictest interpretations. I want to honor her heritage and ensure that she grows up knowing about all of the rich cultures she inherited.
Hanukkah is in 2 days. Guess what else is in 2 days? Thanksgiving, of course. So it’s not just Clementine’s first Hanukkah; it’s her one and only SUPER Hanukkah, which people are calling Thanksgivukkah. The last time these two holidays coincided was in 1888. The next time won’t be until 79,043 years from now (Check out this HuffPo article Why Hanukkah and Thanksgiving Will Never Again Coincide). No pressure.
My first instinct is to buy all of the cute, blue Hanukkah decorations, paper plates, dreidels, etc. But of course, that’s not really what it’s about. What does it look like to raise a child fully connected to her Jewish culture without anyone else in the family being Jewish? I’ve posed that question on my blog a few times, most recently here. So far, I’ve come up with this:
1. I signed Clementine up for PJ Journal, an amazing nonprofit that mails Jewish children free books once a month. They also connect you to your closest, participating synagogue.
2. I plan to send Clementine to Jewish camp (yes, it’s a thing!) each summer.
3. I’m working on getting Clementine a letter from her grandmother’s rabbi that verifies her Jewish heritage.
4. During Hanukkah this year I’m going to attempt the traditional Jewish Blessing Our Children. I’ll bless both my children and read the simple prayer.
5. We’re playing with toys to help us all learn the Hebrew alphabet.
I’ll keep working on my list. Fortunately, living in New York has allowed me many Jewish friends who vary the spectrum of faith and feelings toward their roots. I look forward to learning more. Next up, is Puerto Rican traditions, and for my other foster daughter, Sandy, Kwanzaa!
Other posts from Rebecca this month include: