Hanukkah & Christmas: Is it a Dilemma?


Hanukkah and Christmas – the “December dilemma”. I never liked that term “dilemma”. Not that there isn’t an element of difficulty for an interfaith household, but the word made it seem so dire. I think I would prefer, December Questions, because it all boils down to a lot of questions. The core one being, how will we handle these two holidays, one of which is the Mother of All Holidays.

Let me say emphatically, this is not a one-answer-fits-all question. There are a few do’s and don’ts, but no template that everyone can squeeze into.

The first issue is that people often don’t want to talk about it until they are smack up against it – like now, December is here. But it’s much easier to contemplate in February, with the next occasion being months away.

Here are some questions to discuss:
1. Do one or both of us have strong feelings about this? This is usually Christmas.
2. Do we have a plan for this year or do we need some help sorting it out – right away?
3. Is December a cloud that floats through our lives with us – one we’d like to be rid of?
4. Are we stuck and just don’t know what to do or say at this point? Are we feeling overwhelmed?

Bonus question: How is this impacting our children? Do we really know?

If after reading this you’d like some help, please contact me. (dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org). You are not alone. You haven’t done anything “wrong”. You may need some new ideas.

As for the Bonus Question, how this is affecting your kids matters. But you must take care of yourselves before you can focus on the children.

Shabbat Shalom & have a peaceful weekend,

Learn About the Shabbat Evening Service (Los Altos Hills)
Library Shabbat (Lafayette)
Tot Shabbat (San Mateo)
Latkes and Vodka! (Walnut Creek)
Family Connections (San Rafael)
Pop ‘n Latkes (Berkeley)
Bring Your Own Menorah! (Foster City)
Sha’ar Zahav’s Third Annual Hanukkah in the Castro (San Francisco)
Oy Chanikah (Palo Alto)
Night at the Jewseum: Light, Analog Edition (San Francisco)
Hanukkah comes to Stanford Shopping Center! (Palo Alto)
Sinai Community Hanukkah Celebration (Oakland)
Hey Hey It’s Mushu and a Movie! (Lafayette)
New Year’s Eve Stand-Up Comedy Show & After Party (San Rafael)

Learn About the Shabbat Evening Service
at Beth Am’s Pre-Service Learning and Discussion
Do you wish you had a better understanding of the Shabbat evening service? Would you like to find more meaning in the worship experience? Join Beth Am clergy for learning and discussion of the structure and meaning of our Friday night prayers, along with practical suggestions for connecting these ancient words to our own lives. No question is too elementary! Led by Beth Am clergy.

Date: Friday, December 8
Time: 5:30 PM
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Details here.

Library Shabbat
The Library Committee presents Temple Isaiah member and best-selling author Alan Jacobson discussing The Lost Codex, an exciting thriller with a biblical connection. The service will be followed by a festive oneg with book-signing and a pop-up library.

Date: Friday, December 8
Time: 8 p.m.
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette

Tot Shabbat
Join Rabbi Sara for a fun, interactive, and musical service. Rabbi Sara will tell a special story for young kids. Sing and dance with stuffed Torahs and experience a joyful Shabbat with friends. Followed by snacks, playtime, and a special Chanukah project!

Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 9:00 am
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Details here.

Latkes and Vodka!
Did you know that vodka can be made from fermented corn, rice, wheat, potatoes,
fruit or even just sugar? Start the Hanukkah celebration early with a class on the history of this distilled beverage given by a national vodka expert. Plus enjoy delicious latkes and tastings of four different international vodkas, all followed by a pianist. Lemon Dreidel Drops available for purchase.

Date: Sat., Dec. 9
Time: 7 to 9pm
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Pre-admission: $20; At-the-door: $23. RSVP is recommended by December 5 here.
Support Shalom Bayit and those fleeing domestic abuse by donating a supermarket or Target gift card to a family in need at this event.
Sponsored be Under One Tent, the Contra Costa JCC and B’nai Tikvah.

Family Connections
Connect with other families with young children! Learn about the Jewish holidays and traditions through music, art, cooking and parent education. Come nosh and schmooze with new friends!

Date: Sunday, Dec. 10
Time: 9:30 – 11:30am
Place: Marin JCC, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Cost: Free for families with children birth to 3years of age. Siblings and extended family are welcome.
Please RSVP to Melody Horowitz: mhorowitz@marinjcc.org

Pop ‘n Latkes
A Festival of Giving, Dancing, and Light
Community Holiday Hanukkah Celebration
Already dreaming about latkes? This year, they’ll be paired with breakdancing! Mark your calendar for our annual community celebration, where we’ll light the candles together at our all-ages extravaganza.

Enjoy a pop-up breakdance workshop with our resident dancer, Marcus; craft-making with Be’chol Lashon; storytelling with Diana Shmiana featuring the Mystery of the Missing Candle (for ages 3-7); singalongs with Isaac Zones; and a child-friendly screening with BimBam. Learn more about Hanukkah with our new Shamash Resident, Rachel Brodie. Visit the gift-wrapping station to beautifully package your donated gifts of brand-new children’s toys, and assemble a homemade note to go with gift cards to be donated.

Cozy up in the book nook, pop a move in the theater, and celebrate the season in our warm, inclusive environment.

Date: Sunday, December 10
Time: 2pm
Place: East Bay JCC, 1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley
Cost: In advance : $6 for children, $8 for adults. At the door: $8 for children, $10 for adults; Children 2 and under are free of charge
Details here.

Bring Your Own Menorah!
Join us for the first night of Chanukah and BYOM (bring your own menorah). It will be a beautiful way to celebrate the holiday, as we eat latkes, spin dreidels, and light the candles as a community. Happy Chanukah!

Date: Wednesday night, December 13
Time: 6:00 pm
Place: Peninsula Sinai, 499 Boothbay Ave., Foster City

Sha’ar Zahav’s Third Annual Hanukkah in the Castro
Light candles, sing, spin the giant dreidl, eat sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and dance! We are teaming up with Castro Merchants again to host this fun-filled evening to celebrate light and community. Bring your own Menorah (BYOM)!

Date: Wednesday, Dec 13 (2nd night of Hanukkah)
Time: 6:00pm
Place: Jane Warner Plaza at Castro & Market Street, San Francisco
Details here.

Oy Chanikah
Hadassah welcomes back the wonderful Mark Levy, who will lead us in his program called “Oy Chanikah.” It includes songs from the Old World and the new, sung in Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew, English and Russian.

Date: Thursday, December 14: Concert from 10:30am to 12:00pm; Socializing & Desserts from 12:00 to 12:30pm
Time: 10:30am to 12:30pm
Place: Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto
RSVP required to Leah at SequoiaChapterRSVP@Hadassah.org
Cost: $18 Donation to Hadassah for Youth Aliyah program. Hadassah’s ‘Youth Aliyah’ assists young immigrants and at-risk children in Israel.
Sponsored by Hadassah Sequoia

Night at the Jewseum: Light, Analog Edition
The party for the after-work crowd celebrates Hanukkah through a Museum-wide party exploring the exquisite charm of art and culture before digital. Engage with tube amp craft, create tape loops, old-school liquid light show, typewriter petting zoo, Ask A Maven, and more.

Date: Thursday, December 14
Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm
Place: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco
Cost: FREE with Museum admission; $5 after 5pm.
More info here.

Hanukkah comes to Stanford Shopping Center!
Celebrate the Jewish festival of lights with a musical performance by Isaac Zones of Shamati, arts and crafts for the kids, dreidel games and a special candle lighting ceremony.

Date: Thursday, December 14
Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
Place: Stanford Shopping Center, Macy’s Plaza, 660 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto
Hosted by the Palo Alto JCC. Details here.

Sinai Community Hanukkah Celebration
Join our community Hanukkah celebration including music, latkes, arts and crafts, and menorah lighting (bring your menorah to light). This is a child-friendly celebration for people of all ages.
Stay through the evening for a festive Hanukkah service and holiday oneg.

Date: Friday, December 15
Time: 6:00pm Dinner, Arts & Crafts, Music and Menorah Lighting, 7:30pm, Special Erev Shabbat Service “Friday Night Live!” with the Adult Choir and Mizmor Shir! band.
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: Dinner, including holiday treats; cost is $10/person.
Please click here to RSVP for the dinner by December 13. Dinner will be Mac & Cheese from Homeroom.

Hey Hey It’s Mushu and a Movie!
According to recent American Jewish tradition, we gather on our friends’ holiday eve —December 24th — for delicious meals at Chinese restaurants, and good films at the cinema. At Temple Isaiah, our community enjoys the feast and film together, in our adult lounge, and calls it “MuShu and a Movie.”
Join us at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 24, for a very plentiful Chinese food buffet and a sweetly comic coming-of-age movie that’s a favorite at festivals everywhere: Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueberger.
The film is a smart, quirky portrait of a feisty Jewish teen’s quest to “fit in” by breaking out. Esther Blueburger is a nerdy misfit at a posh girls’ school. Her quest begins when she escapes from her Bat Mitzvah party and is befriended by Sunni, a spunky, independent “cool girl” who is everything Esther thinks she wants to be. When Sunni discovers how unhappy Esther is, the girls hatch a plan: Esther will leave behind her dysfunctional family to hang out with Sunni’s super-hip single mom and attend a taboo public school, all while disguised as a Swedish exchange student.
Everyone is welcome!

Date: Sunday, Dec. 24
Time: 6pm
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette
Cost for Temple members is $20 for adults/teens, $15 for kids under 13; $25/17 for non-members. Movie snacks, beverages and dessert are included. Adults may bring their own beer and wine. Send a check (payable to Anshei Isaiah) to the Temple office.
Details here

New Year’s Eve Stand-Up Comedy Show & After Party

The Osher Marin JCC joins the Other Cafe Comedy Showcase to present their 8th Annual New Year’s Eve Comedy Show of smart, clean and funny humor. Known as one of the top comedy shows of the year and always a sell-out, the evening is timed so attendees can enjoy an early dinner at a favorite restaurant, be elsewhere for the stroke of midnight, or stay for the festive After Party with the Comics including complimentary bubbly toast at midnight! The event also offers a chance to use the evening as New Year’s celebration with friends at a reserved lantern-lit table for Four OR Eight.
Smart, funny and clean stand-up comedy from 5 comics in ONE hilarious show.

Date: Dec. 31
Time: 7:30pm to 12:45am
7:30pm: Pre-event No-Host Full Bar
8:00: Theater Doors Open
9:00pm: Comedy Showcase
11:15pm-12:45am: After Party & Countdown with the Comics
Place: Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael
Cost: Start as low as $39.50 with General Admission, Reserved Seats and Candle-Lit Group Tables.
Register here.