It’s been years since I went to Hebrew school, so please do me a favor and remind exactly where a Dora the Explorer sleeping bag fits into the story of Hanukkah.
Because a Dora sleeping bag must be in the there somewhere with the story of the Maccabees and the miraculous oil that burned for eight days. I’m sure of it.
Otherwise, why does my 3-year-old daughter necessarily get one when we light the candles and say the prayers this Hanukkah?
For most Reform Jews, Hanukkah is an occasion to simply gather with family, light the menorah and eat. Not to diminish the accomplishments of Judah, the Maccabees and that miraculous drop of oil (back when trans fat was revered instead of reviled), but technically it’s a relatively minor happening on the Jewish calendar that’s presumed by many non-Jews to be major because of its proximity to Christmas.
Sure, for kids, Hanukkah feels significant not because of the story of the Jewish struggle for religious freedom and national survival, but because along the way someone inexplicably added presents to the tradition that previously only included potato latkes, a spinning top and chocolate shaped liked coins and wrapped in gold foil (which is not to disparage fried potatoes and chocolate wrapped in gold foil, both of which are always deeply appreciated). To a child, any occasion that includes eight gifts is definitely an Occasion.
It’s not that I’m a Scrooge per se (although my 3-month-old baby will get nothing for Hanukkah), but I just take umbrage with the fact that all of a sudden my toddler knows to ask for stuff as it relates to Hanukkah. I certainly didn’t tell her about it, although I’m sure it’s something she picked up in preschool (along with the always charming, “Sharing is not caring”).
It helps that she’s actually into the holiday (along with all holidays — like, really into them). She was thrilled when the menorah came out of storage and into our house, along with the dreidels and gelt. Of course she keeps asking, too, about sitting on Santa’s lap and when he’s coming over to give her a pink Dora doll (apparently the Jews supply the sleeping bags and the goys the dolls who sleep in said bags).
I suppose as long as she keeps up her interest in Judaism and the significance behind the holidays — major and minor — I shouldn’t complain. But somehow the whole thing was cuter when we initiated the gifts and she wasn’t coming to us with her list of hostage demands via Nickelodeon.
How do you balance the religious significance of the holidays with all the stuff?