Christmas and the Jewish Single
Why is this night different from all other nights?
When I was young, we didn't live in a Jewish neighborhood and I went to Pubic School for Kindergarten. My teacher was a substitute teacher who made things very uncomfortable for me by not allowing me to tell my classmates about Hanukka. I felt very alone (at the tender age of 5) and I have often found Christmas to be very uncomfortable. Adding to this discomfort has been, particularly in years when I'm working full time for a place that is closed on Christmas, is that there often is no non-Christmas television on.
This is my "survival techniques" developed over many years of boredom. I hope you like them.
Christmas and the Jewish Single
With No Family Obligations and Boring TV, What's a Jewish Single to do?
[This article was originally published in the author's local Jewish newspaper]
Well, it's that time of year again ... Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Here I am, an Orthodox, or fairly so, young single Jewish woman writing about Christmas. And why, pray tell, am I writing about Christmas?
I'll tell you. Christmas for Jews is tough enough but Christmas for Jewish singles is even worse. You see, being that we live in a Christian society, most people who don't work for kosher (or Indian) restaurants, Yeshivot (Jewish Day Schools) or synagogues (etc.) have December 25th off. This is nice for most people with families. The family, or at least the husband and wife if the children go to Yeshiva, has a day with no extended family obligations like Thanksgiving or Purim, no barbecue like July 4th or Labor Day, and no stores open, so no shopping obligations. Families can spend the day on family projects, playing family games together, renting (and watching) a movie together or even baking cookies.
But for Jewish singles, there is nothing on TV, no malls to shop in, and no spouses to share a romantic dinner with. Some singles' organizations use this opportunity to plan singles' events while others volunteer at local hospitals or nursing homes for "Operation: Snowflake" performing non-professional work so Gentile staff can spend their holiday with family. But these are merely diversions between endless reruns of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street".
So you pass the day doing one of several things: 1) watching really awful Christmas specials, 2) cleaning up your room/ apartment/ refrigerator, 3) calling every friend you ever had (back to kindergarten), 4) surfing the net, 5) looking through your Chanukah presents, or 6) watching yourself age. Somewhere during all this, you doze off in front of the TV with the familiar strains of "The 12 Days of Christmas" ringing in your ears. But in your current state, the words sound a bit different. "It's the 12th Christmas special, and all that's in my house is ... 12 Dumber specials, 11 Latkes piping (hot), 10 Lord and Taylor's gift certificates (I should be so lucky!), 9 menorah cleanings, 8 dates-a-planning, 7 hairlines thinning, 6 pizzas heating, 5 golden teeth, 4 calling cards, 3 French fries, 2 turtle necks and a Partridge Family LP."
Of course, if you find yourself overdosing on Christmas cheer, you can always stick in a video designed to make you remember your own heritage. Here are a few ideas: "Fiddler on the Roof", "Yentl", "The Chosen", "Schindler's List", "Exodus", "The Jazz Singer", "A Stranger Among Us", or even "Raiders of the Lost Ark". If that doesn't work, you can always try the Rugrats Chanukah Special on Nickelodeon. Or just curl up with a good book. Some of my favorites are "Jephthah's Daughter", "Sotah" , "The Sacrifice of Tamar" and "The Ghost of Hannah Mendes" all by Naomi Regan, "Snow in August" by Pete Hamill and "Acts of Faith" by Erich Segal. All have Jewish themes and I got them all from the local Library. They all are real page turners so don't be intimidated by the bulk. If these books don't suit your taste, be sure to load up on good books before the 25th since, like everything else previously mentioned, the Libraries are closed on that day. And keep in mind, once you get through the "Big" day, there are no more Christmas specials, Christmas parades and office Christmas parties. Everyone's just too caught up in New Year's!
These items from Amazon can make your Christmas more enjoyable
This was the first of Naomi Ragen's books that I read and it got me interested in reading her other books.
This story was taken from the headlines, but Naomi Ragen fictionalized it and added a better ending than the true story.
This fiction story could have happened. Gripping story.
About family secrets and their affect on family members.
A story about the fictional descendants of a true Jewish Feminist Hero from the 16th Century. This book will get you interested in the real woman behind the story.
More Amazon products to help you reclaim your Jewish heritage (or learn about it)
Compugraph Designs Art Now Site
"Art Now" is another "Print on Demand" site. They have a nice collection of clocks and watches, including the one pictured here (with a Jewish Star and Menora design on it). Click on the picture to see the entire site.
Compugraph Designs Spoonflower Site
Spoonflower is a place where a designer can design his/her own fabric. I have some designs on fabric there -- click on the picture to see all the fabric designs.
Spoonflower also has a weekly contest where you can vote for your favorite design.
The Gold Star
One of my short stories, "The Gold Star" is now available in illustrated form. The story is about a young boy named Shmuel who helps a poor man without the man knowing.
The Princess Who Wanted to be Beautiful
One of my first short stories, "The Princess Who Wanted to be Beautiful" started out as a bedtime story for the children of a close friend. I had been worrying about the "Disney Syndrome" whereby all the heroes are beautiful and all the ugly people are villains. This is a story about a princess who has heard that all princesses are beautiful and doesn't think she is beautiful. She decides to go to a wizard and ask him to make her beautiful but along the way she makes some friends and learns a lesson about herself.
As I mention in the beginning of this lens, I originally wrote this as an article for my local Jewish newspaper's singles column.
For research on the article, I called my local library to get the words for the 12 days of Christmas. I asked the reference librarian for the words and she asked if I was going to be using them in a school play or something like that. Feeling a bit sheepish, I said, "no, I'm actually planning on writing a parody of the song for a Jewish singles article." In a very excited voice, she mentioned my name and asked me if that was who I was. I was a bit suspicious, but I said, "yes, why do you ask?" "Oh," she said, "I love your articles -- I read them all the time. I can't wait to see what you'll do with this!"