Sunday, November 29, 2015

Jewish Roots + Christmas

It is that time of year again... We come upon the trifecta of major winter holidays. Those being, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, not including the Winter Solstice. Many present a dilemma. What is that dilemma? They are mixed breed. They are mutt. They are, as Malfroy would call Hermione, a mud blood. Not pure. But honestly, none of us are, I am convinced.

So why do those that have Jewish heritage and blood, not necessarily Jewish by faith -- the only group of people I know that have to make that distinguished trait in themselves -- have to wrestle with the idea of Hanukkah and Christmas?

 No, not Jewish Christmas. That is pretty offensive to some. To others, a way to mock Christmas. Some have big issues with the new movie- The Night Before (which I reviewed).

No that is not what I am talking about.

There is many reasons, as there are many different kinds of Jewish people, even by blood. They were located not just in Israel and even today reside in every part of the world (except Antarctica of course). In fact, I bet many people don't know they have Jewish roots. Not something one sits and thinks about when thinking about work deadlines and holidays-- because it is not the main normal in America (or other parts of the world).

I was talking to my neighbour, who is originally from Russia. She was talking about her Jewish roots with me and how her family had to hide any Jewish-ness from themselves to integrate into Russian society, then Soviet Society, to be undetected or get ramifications for being Jewish. Her mum went as far as to change her name, never celebrating her Jewish roots. She honours her roots, not so much as a personal belief, but to honour the fact that her mum could not celebrate their Jewish heritage. A homage to her mother and her past.

You will find this is not uncommon. In fact, a lot of those with Jewish roots I have talked to either have similar stories and their families are agnostic or atheist.

My kids... They have Jewish ancestry- more than I do, in fact.
On their father's side, they changed their last name when they came to America. It was so beautiful too. It was Erdelei. (Air-de-lea). Who wants to change that? Well, they did. Socio-cultural reasons.
Mine, I recently found out, does have Jewish roots as well. Although I am less Jewish than my kids, technically. I believe I come from the Levi tribe in Israel by mother's lineage (all the way up the chain).  Many come from there as well and often you can tell by their last names now (although not always) and makes up only 4% of the Jewish population. This is one of twelve tribes and most other people of other tribes have a harder time tracking their tribes down. This tribe was full of people who were creative people (took care of the music in the temple), and part of taking care of the temple too. I am creative, not religious.

Both sides of my kids' families have the agnostic or atheist view on life-- why is a great question. One of many sides-- cultural, social, and political. One that stems for many different reasons based on the family and the background of which they immigrated out of their country of origin to other parts of the world and the conditions and treatments they received there.

I had someone totally assume I was Jewish by faith, which I am not, because I knew the blessing in Hebrew for Hanukkah. Like my friend, I do it to honour my lineage but not by faith. So remember, just because someone knows it does not mean they are.

Remember that those of us who celebrate both to honour both our lineage and current faith. Or maybe we honour our linage and celebrate Christmas as a social aspect and not religious.

There are many Jews that actually are Jewish by faith too. Here are things not to say to someone who is of Jewish faith around the holidays.

Here is an article of someone who has had that struggle themselves There is no Such Thing as the December Dilemma by Medium.

Here is an article about tips for interfaith families during the holidays.

If you celebrate both, share your ideas, tips, and experiences. I would love to hear them!


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