Chanukah Chai-lights

5 Tips for Navigating a Chanukah-Christmas Overlap in Interfaith Families

1.) Communicate With Your Partner Before Speaking with the Children. Being on the same page with your partner is crucial.  Traditions and culture can be very emotional, so communication is key. Have a conversation with your partner before the holidays, and if you can, before you get married. Talk about the things that are important to you - traditions you wish to uphold in your household and listen to your partner when he/she expresses those things as well. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington suggests having these conversations BEFORE you speak with your kids so they sense that their parents are on the same page.

2.) Be Respectful of the Grandparent Generation.
Think about ways you want to honor and include the the grandparents em. It can be nice to have a special celebration for each holiday with each set of grandparents. You can visit The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s PJ Library page for ideas to do for the Jewish holidays.

3.) Give Each Holiday Its Due.
Make sure you give enough attention to each tradition separately. Sometimes mashing up traditions like having latkes on Christmas isn’t the best way to do it. What are the traditions that each of you grew up doing on Christmas Day?  Which are important and can be incorporated?  Which may need to be adjust or compromised on?  When possible, have a Christmas celebration at a different time than the Chanukah celebration, though you should light the menorah candles every night of Chanukah, even when there's overlap.  The Federation’s Jewish Life and Learning resources can help families add a bit more about the values around Chanukah like working to make the world brighter and warmer like the lights of Chanukah do.

4.) Find a Good Time to Talk With Your Kids.
Talking with your kids about tradition is important but finding a good time to do it can be hard. Try speaking with your kids during reading time. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington implements PJ Library in Greater Washington which delivers free children's books about Jewish topics to Jewish and interfaith families.  One book that is a good way to bring up the subject of the holidays is Nonna’s Hanukkah Surprise, which is about an interfaith family.

5.) Find a Good Way to Talk With Your Kids.
Other than reading time, boys in particular are good to speak with when they are using their hands. Crafts can be a great time to start a conversation around tradition. Making a menorah out of glass votives or mason jars is a nice craft to do to speak about Chanukah. This can be done with materials that parents have at home or can be easily obtained – glass jars, votives or tealight holders and decorations such as Sharpies, tissue paper, glue, paint and stickers.  Get the directions here.
 

 The December Opportunity

By Sarah Rabin Spira, Manager, PJ Library at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

This season has been called the “December Dilemma” because of the confusion children may feel due to the proximity of Chanukah and Christmas. But confusion and anxiety may also occur in adults, when issues of competing cultures arise; and the pressure may be acute for interfaith families. For that reason, we choose to call this the “December Opportunity,” an opening for families to have honest discussions about cultures, rituals, identity and respect.
 
When individuals of different faiths, or even when individuals within variations of the practice of Judaism, become partners, the thing to remember is that you are partners, working together to build a life built on trust, communication, kindness and generosity. Have the conversations before issues arise, when they can be addressed calmly rather than in the frantic rush of emotions that come with an intense holiday season (that seems to start earlier each year). Be open about what your absolute needs are, what you can compromise on and what traditions you can start together that feel unique, special and “yours.”
 
Recognize that there may be new topics that arise or previous ones that were not considered and just be in a space to work through them together. Remember that there is no right or wrong answer, and you have to do what works best for you and your family at this time of year. That might mean a different path in different years depending on changing comfort levels and the ages of the children.
 
Be aware that there are sensibilities and sensitivities on both sides, likely going back to childhood memories that your partner may wish to recreate. Be respectful to their families but clear that these are the decisions made by partners, not by individuals within the relationship.
 
And while it’s tempting to call a Christmas tree a “Chanukah Bush,” another key to success is to maintain the distinctiveness of different holidays. Can you have latkes on Christmas Eve? Sure. But it might be better to reserve them for their own dates if they don’t overlap that year. Feeling like each holiday (and its accompanying memories, family opinions, traditions) is being honored will help make the holiday season a time of opportunity to reflect, redefine and rejoice.

Click here for PJLibrary’s List of Family-Friendly Chanukah Events

Upcoming Events
View All Events
 
Sun
Dec
  17
4:00 PM - 5:45 PM
 
Tikvat Israel Congregation
2200 Baltimore Road, Rockville MD 20851
Celebrate the 6th night of Chanukah, sing spirited songs, led by Cantor Rochelle Helzner and the Eine Kleine Tikva Band. Light candles and enjoy a latke. RSVP to the office 301-762-7338 by Wednesday, December 14.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Maryland, Conservative, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  Free; free

 
 
Sun
Dec
  17
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
 
B'nai Israel Congregation
6301 Montrose Road, Rockville MD 20852
Symphony of the Potomac and Zemer Chai: The Jewish Chorale of the Nation’s Capital, will be joining us at B’nai Israel to celebrate Hanukkah. Hear the choir perform parts of Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus together with Cantors Perlman and Wolpert followed by a Hanukkah sing-along. We will conclude with Hanukkah candle lighting and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). Questions? Contact Allison (240-221-2507, allison@bnaiisraelcong.org).
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Maryland, Conservative, Arts & Culture, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; $10

 
 
Sun
Dec
  17
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
 
Chabad of Olney
18100 Town Center Dr, Olney MD 20832
Community Chanukah Celebration Featuring a giant 10 foot Lego Menorah! Let's see how tall we can build it! Lego building: 5:00 pm Menorah Kindling: 5:30 pm Chanukah crafts and games in a large heated tent Latkes & Douts Music & More
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Maryland, Non-denominational, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  

 
 
Mon
Dec
  18
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 
Bender JCC of Greater Washington
11920 Grand Park Ave, Rockville MD 20852
Celebrate Chanukah with the Bender JCC and Pinstripes at Pike and Rose. Enjoy an evening filled with cocktails and light food (kosher style) and, of course, bowling for all!
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Singles, Maryland, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; $18 - $36

 
 
Mon
Dec
  18
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (Jewish Food Experience)
1443 P St NW , Washinton DC 20005
Join The Jewish Food Experience and Commisary for our 3rd annual Latke-Palooza! Ticket Includes entry to the event and access to the "bottomless" latke and deep fried donut bar, featuring traditional, sweet potato and brussel sprout latkes. While the menu will be vegetarian, Commisary is not a Kosher restaurant.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Couples, GLBT, Interfaith, Singles, DC, Culinary, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; $22

 
 
Mon
Dec
  18
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
 
Bender JCC of Greater Washington
11920 Grand Park Ave., Bethesda MD 20852
Celebrate the 7th night of Chanukah at Pike and Rose! The party begins at 6:30 PM with the lighting of the menorah in Rose Park at Pike and Rose followed by an evening of bowling, dinner* and dessert. It’s not quite a holiday without a drink…Cash bar will be available! This event is open to individuals ages 21 – 40. *Food provided will be dairy but NOT under kosher supervision. Cost: $25 before December 5 | $30 after December 5
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Couples, Singles, Maryland, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  $25 - $50; $25 - $30

 
 
Tue
Dec
  19
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
 
Shaare Tefila Congregation
18401 Butterfield Drive, Olney MD 20832
Celebrate Chanukah with a dazzling Festival of Laser Light Show! Delicious Chanukah refreshments will be served. This event is sponsored by the generosity of donors from B’nai Shalom of Olney & Shaare Tefila RSVP before 12/15. Any questions, please call BSO at 301-774-0879 or email Shaare Tefila at mmandell@shaaretefila.org
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Maryland, Conservative, Children/Teens/Family, Arts & Culture, Community-Wide/Festivals, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  

 
 
Tue
Dec
  19
6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
 
4340 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington DC 20008
Join Sephardic Heritage International- DC (SHIN DC) and partners for an evening of music and festivities to raise awareness of the Syrian and other refugee crises. SHIN's annual Hanukkah program is inspired by a Syrian Jewish narrative that Sephardic refugees began lighting an extra flame each night of Hanukkah to commemorate the security & tolerance they found in Aleppo, following expulsion from Spain in 1492. - Syrian American musician Asher Shasho Levy to be featured! His band Aram Soba (Aram...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Interfaith, DC, Advocacy, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; $18; sponsorships available

 
 
Sat
Dec
  23
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
 
Agudas Achim Congregation
2908 Valley Drive, Alexandria VA 22302
Join Agudas Achim Young Families for a weekly, volunteer led service for kids ages 0-5, accompanied by an adult. Congregational kiddush follows.
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Children/Teens/Family, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Parenting, PJ Library Co-Sponsored
Event Cost:  

 
 
Sun
Dec
  24
4:00 PM - 9:30 PM
 
Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County
8215 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda MD 20814
Spend “Erev X-mas” with Beth El on Sunday, December 24. Beginning at 4:00 pm, different movies will be shown throughout the afternoon for individuals and families of all ages. There will be two movie showings, with dinner (Kosher Chinese Food) in between from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. Movies will continue at 7:15 pm. For more information, or to volunteer to help with this event, please contact Geryl Baer at gbaer@bethelmc.org or 301-652-8569, ext. 352.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Families, Seniors, Teens, Maryland, Conservative, Adult Education, Children/Teens/Family, Arts & Culture, Culinary, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), PJ Library Co-Sponsored, Social Events
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; Adults $10, children 2-5 $5, under 2 free

 
 
Dec 29 - Jan 1
Multiple times available
 
Capital Camps & Retreat Center (Capital Camps )
12750 Buchanan Trail East, Waynesboro PA 17268
Welcome 2018 Capital Camps style! Join us for our fifth annual New Year’s Family Camp. Bring your family, along with grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins if you wish. Play and learn together. Celebrate the New Year with new friends and renewed family connections. Housing for New Year’s Family Camp will be in Nesiya Lodge. All rooms include individually controlled heat, two hotel quality queen size beds, linen and towel service, desk, phone, wireless internet, and in-room safe. Adj...
Listed In:  Families, DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia, Children/Teens/Family, Community-Wide/Festivals, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  more than $50; $400/adults $275 age 3-18

 
 
Sat
Dec
  30
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
 
Agudas Achim Congregation
2908 Valley Drive, Alexandria VA 22302
Join Agudas Achim Young Families for a weekly, volunteer led service for kids ages 0-5, accompanied by an adult. Congregational kiddush follows.
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Children/Teens/Family, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Parenting, PJ Library Co-Sponsored
Event Cost:  

 
 
Fri
Jan
  5
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
 
Temple Shalom
8401 Grubb Road, Chevy Chase MD 20815
Dear Temple Shalom Families, We are very excited for our next First Friday Shabbat Family Service. The deadline to register for our congregational potluck is Wednesday, January 3. Please register with the names of or number of people in your party and the (vegetarian, dairy, or fish) dish you are bringing. NO MEATS OR DESSERTS PLEASE! The dish should serve at least 8 people. Also, please remember to bring serving utensils! You do not need to post your phone number or email. We encourage you to...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Maryland, Reform, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), PJ Library Co-Sponsored, Social Events
Event Cost:  Free; free

 
 
Jan 12 - Jan 13
Multiple times available
 
Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim (Congregation Har Tzeon Agudath Achim)
1840 University Blvd West, Silver Spring MD 20902
Join in a full weekend of acapella with Kol Ish! January 12 & 13, 2018 Friday Night Dinner and Zemirot - 6pm Shabbat acapella services - 9am Musical Havdalah & Concert - 6pm Entire Shabbaton: $60 Concert Only: $40 Dinner Only: $30 Accompanied children 18 & under FREE! Sponsorships available! Register Today!
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Maryland, Conservative, Arts & Culture, Community-Wide/Festivals, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  $25 - $50; $40

 
 
Fri
Jan
  12
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
 
Temple B'nai Shalom
7612 Old Ox Road, Fairfax Station VA 22039
Jewish rocker extraordinaire Sheldon Low will be with us to rock in Shabbat! Please don't miss this very musical and special service. Bring your friends!
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Reform, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), PJ Library Co-Sponsored
Event Cost: