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“Does This Dreidel Make Me Look Inclusive?”

Thoughts on public schools & the false narrative of “Jewish Christmas”

I shared this recently as an instagram post, but felt it deserved a permanent home here, as I see it becoming an ongoing theme and discussion as I advance in my role as a parent of a child in the public school system.

I must say, I was under the impression that religious holidays were left out of public schools unless there was a historical lesson where it would be appropriate to learn about them. However, I’ve recently learned that it is a school by school thing here in Connecticut, which is rather surprising to me. As you can probably tell from this post, I am annoyed. My annoyance should not be confused with a disdain for religion, Christianity, or for diversity. It is quite the opposite. My annoyance lies in the “oh! It’s winter! better celebrate Hanukkah so the Jews don’t feel left out when we sing the 10 Christmas songs at the holiday concert!” I mean… no. We already had Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah in September alone. So, “I just find it interesting…” ( said in voice of a spouse about to say something to the other spouse that they are most unpleased about) …that all of a sudden we give a hoot about Jewish holidays. This is not what inclusivity looks like, and quite frankly it’s offensive.

“Does this dreidel make me look inclusive???”

Deep breath.

I’m gonna ruffle some feathers today, but what else is new.

Now before anybody comes at me with a “but what about!” Comment… I am well aware there are other holidays besides Jewish ones, however I am using this example because I am speaking to my own experiences and staying in my lane.

Just gonna be blunt… I’m sick and tired of school systems claiming to celebrate “diversity” and “all faiths,” yet being silent during the high holidays and then all of a sudden Hanukkah rolls around and it’s Jewish Christmas (it’s not.) If you’re going to be inclusive, own it. Otherwise, leave religious holidays out of schools. There. I said it.

When I was growing up, my mom would always make her voice heard about this. About the heavy emphasis in public school celebrations and festivals on holidays celebrated by Christians, and the performative one song, one decoration, “we love the Jews” diversity act that often accompanied them.I remember wishing my mom wouldn’t say anything so I could enjoy singing jingle bells and old Saint Nick in peace like all the other kids. Now that I’m older, I wish she said more. I wish I UNDERSTOOD more at the time.

If you are “celebrating” Hanukkah in a public school to be “inclusive,” I for one, am not impressed. I reiterate that Hanukkah is not Jewish Christmas. Also while I have you here let’s discuss that Hannukah ends weeks before Christmas this year. If you’re going to make Christmas a part of school, might as well talk about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shavuot, Passover…. If not, then I really have a hard time believing we are welcoming in “diversity.”

You have to ask yourself… am I being inclusive, or am I simply trying to cover my bases so we can keep Christmas in schools?

Also, for the record. Please spare me from “Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel”

Food for thought. Hello 2021. I have become my mother.

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