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
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Fri
Sep
  21
7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
 
OneTable (OneTable DC)
V Street, NW, Washington DC 20001
YOU'RE INVITED Join us on an urban farm in Shaw to celebrate the season's bounty with hands-on workshops and a farm-to-Sukkah feast grounded in the themes of the agricultural harvest festival. Amanda Herring, OneTable's JOFEE fellow, Mollie Sharfman from GatherDC, and Elizabeth Heyman from Jews United for Justice invite you to end your week by taking a pause from the busyness of the city to connect with nature and eat from the harvest at Common Good City Farm. From a pickling lesson to tastin...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Couples, Singles, DC, Non-denominational, Culinary, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; $18

 
 
Sat
Sep
  22
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
 
Congregation Adat Reyim
6500 Westbury Oaks Court, Springfield VA 22152
Join us for a family friendly shabbat where we encourage preschoolers and young children to celebrate the shabbat with us. Friendly songs, enjoyable music, and a welcoming atmosphere at Congregational Adat Reyim.
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Reform, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Parenting
Event Cost:  

 
 
Sun
Sep
  23
8:00 AM - 1:00 PM
 
Temple Rodef Shalom
2100 Westmoreland Street, Falls Church VA 22043
Once again, the challenge…Construct the Sukkah! If you can count past 10, and if you have ever managed to put a piece of IKEA furniture together, this will be a "walk in the park." And we’ll also need men to drink the free coffee and eat the free donuts. You don’t have to have any particular construction skills, just be willing to join in the activity and have some fun. So, strap on your tool belt, grab your hammers, and join us on the front lawn of TRS for the annual Raising of the Sukkah. And...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Teens, Northern Virginia, Reform, Adult Education, Children/Teens/Family, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  

 
 
Sun
Sep
  23
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
 
Congregation Etz Hayim (Congregation Etz Hayim (Conservative))
2920 Arlington Blvd., Arlington VA 22204
Help us build on sukkah! No experience required. Non-members welcome.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Seniors, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  

 
 
Sun
Sep
  23
4:30 PM - 7:30 PM
 
Temple Rodef Shalom
2100 Westmoreland Street, Falls Church VA 22043
4:30 PM - Groundbreaking (Free) 5:30 PM - Dinner* and Activities (Dinner is Kosher Style) 6:30 PM - Services (Free) “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to plant and a time to harvest.” (Ecclesiastes read on Shabbat during Sukkot) Sukkot is a time of harvest. We spend a week dwelling in our temporary shelter, sharing meals and time together. This year, we till the earth to sow seeds for our future permanent dwelling. Join us for the groundbreaking f...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Families, Seniors, Northern Virginia, Reform, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; $ 5.00 - $15.00

 
 
Wed
Sep
  26
6:45 PM - 7:45 PM
 
Congregation Etz Hayim (Congregation Etz Hayim (Conservative))
2920 Arlington Blvd., Arlington VA 22204
Bring your own supper, hang out with friends, enjoy the mitzvah of eating in the sukkah. All are welcome! No RSVP required. Please bring a dairy/pareve supper.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Interfaith, Seniors, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  

 
 
Thu
Sep
  27
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 
Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps (Avodah)
1500 Farragut St NW , Washington  DC 20011
You're invited to the new Avodah DC Bayit for a Sukkot Celebration and House Warming with the Avodah DC Corps Members! Please bring a vegetarian dish to share. Label for allergins/dairy, etc.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Interfaith, DC, Leadership Development, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Leadership Development, Networking, Professional Development, Social Events
Event Cost:  Free; Free

 
 
Fri
Sep
  28
7:00 PM - 7:45 PM
 
Temple B'nai Shalom
7612 Old Ox Road, Fairfax Station VA 22039
Please join us for Tot Shabbat, Sukkot-Style! Tot Shabbat is especially for newborns through second graders, and their parents. The service includes lots of music, child-friendly prayers, and stories and activities. It lasts about a half hour and is followed by a special kid-friendly oneg. We will look forward to seeing you at this wonderful service!
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Reform, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), PJ Library Co-Sponsored
Event Cost:  

 
 
Sun
Sep
  30
11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
 
Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington DC (Washington Jewish Music Festival)
1625 P St NW, Washington DC 20036
Bring your whole family to the park for a Sukkot celebration featuring games, fun activities, and musical performances by Josh & the Jamtones! Sponsored in Memory of Elona Shaffert by the Shaffert/Brenner Family.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Interfaith, DC, Arts & Culture, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Parenting, Social Events
Event Cost:  

 
 
Sun
Sep
  30
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
 
Temple Rodef Shalom
2100 Westmoreland Street, Falls Church VA 22043
6:00 pm - Clash of the Mixologists & Appetizers (Kosher Style) 7:00 pm - Simchat Torah Service & Dancing Simchat Torah is one crazy holiday. So carefully handled all year long, our Torah scrolls are taken from the ark to be hugged and kissed and unrolled. We dance with abandon and clap boisterously. We read the last few verses of D’varim (Deuteronomy) and immediately follow with the opening verses of Bereishit (Genesis) because Torah and its teachings never come to an end. To prep for this glo...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Families, Seniors, Northern Virginia, Reform, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  

 
 
Fri
Oct
  5
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM
 
Temple Shalom
8401 Grubb Road, Chevy Chase MD 20815
Temple Shalom First Fridays Tot Shabbat 5:30 PM Congregational Potluck 6:15 PM Erev Shabbat Family Service 7:30 PM
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Maryland, Reform, Children/Teens/Family, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), PJ Library Co-Sponsored, Social Events
Event Cost:  Free; Free

 
 
Fri
Oct
  5
6:15 PM - 8:00 PM
 
Congregation Etz Hayim (Congregation Etz Hayim (Conservative))
2920 Arlington Blvd., Arlington VA 22204
Join us for a delicious and vibrant potluck dinner on the first Friday of every month following the Kabbalat Shabbat service. This is one of our most popular events, especially with families with young children. (Services start at 6:15pm. Dinner starts at approximately 7:30pm). Potluck Guidelines: Food should be vegetarian (dairy or pareve ), made using hekshered ingredients, and brought in a disposable pan/container. Food cannot be heated in our kitchen. Not a home cook? Pick up something hek...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  

 
 
Fri
Oct
  5
8:00 PM - 9:15 PM
 
Temple B'nai Shalom
7612 Old Ox Road, Fairfax Station VA 22039
Please join us our Family Shabbat Service featuring Jewish rocker Sheldon Low!  This worship service is designed especially for families with school-aged children.  We will hope to see you then!
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), PJ Library Co-Sponsored
Event Cost:  

 
 
Fri
Oct
  12
6:15 PM - 7:45 PM
 
Congregation Etz Hayim (Congregation Etz Hayim (Conservative))
2920 Arlington Blvd., Arlington VA 22204
On the 2nd Friday of each month, join us at 6:15 p.m. for an evening of melodic worship with a little groove thrown in by our own congregational band! This event is especially fun for families with young children. Kosher kiddush follows services. (No musical Shabbat in July - Normal Shabbat services will be held at 6:15pm).
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  

 
 
Sat
Oct
  13
9:30 AM - 10:00 AM
 
Congregation Etz Hayim (Congregation Etz Hayim (Conservative))
2920 Arlington Blvd., Arlington VA 22204
9:30 Club: Meditation on 2nd Saturday of each month. Drop-in and stay for services at 10am. Kiddush follows services.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Seniors, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Fitness & Wellness, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost: