Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our First Hanukkah

Sitting up like a big girl in her new chair! (a gift). The toys are mostly facing
away from her because the nanny says she (Calliope, not the nanny) 
seems to be scared of them so far. 

Calliope and I have been enjoying lighting the Hanukkah candles together. It's so strange to realize that I actually enjoy it, after all these years of shunning the traditions. It would've felt contrived to do so before, but with her, it feels very right. And even she gets the magic of a real flame. It's cool to watch her fascination with the candles. I'm not giving her presents this year, since she could care less about presents, of course, and I feel like I am hemorrhaging money at the moment, so it's just the beautiful ritual, and it's the perfect amount of time for an infant's attention span. 

What this means for the rest of our spiritual life, I have no idea. I can't imagine sending her to Hebrew school or anything like that, but I reckon I do like the idea of having some sort of Jewish community, maybe doing a once a month Tot Shabbat kind of activity?

It's so strange to me that I actually want to do this! For years, religion felt strange and hypocritical to me. Now, with Calliope, I don't care so much about the God stuff but I do feel a sense of needing to share some (?a few) of the traditions.

It's all very bewildering. I really didn't expect to feel this way.

My mother wants me to do a naming ceremony for Calliope while we are in Florida. I was game to do it, until I brought it up with my brother in law, you know, the Rabbi? And he said that if I wanted to do it, I had to at least thinking about "making a covenant with Judaism."

The scared the bejesus  heck out of me. I'm not ready to promise nothin' to nobody, apart from promising to always love my little girl.

But lighting candles seems like a good place to start. I talked to my friend Catherine about maybe going to Quaker Meeting with her sometime, because I also feel very at home with the Quaker traditions (I grew up going to Quaker camp), but luckily they are, at least in some Quaker traditions, compatible with Judaism, at least to my way of thinking about Judaism.

Anyway, this is big progress for me.


  1. Happy first Hanukkah to Calliope! I like that menorah, and she seems mesmerized by the candles! I hear you on the pressure to raise a baby Jewish. Mine isn't even here yet, and my parents are pushing me to enroll him/her at the JCC daycare.

  2. Happy Hanukkah! The fun thing is you get to decide what traditions you'll share with Calliope!

  3. Happy Hanukkah! I like the idea of sharing traditions, and I also think Tot Shabbat sounds like fun! I've never been into the religous part of Judaism, but I've always enjoyed the traditions, and can't wait to pass them on to my little one(s?).

    I don't think you have to have a "covenant with Judaism" to have a naming ceremony for Calliope. Religion is what you make it - and what you WANT from it - so I say, do the ceremony if you want to, and don't worry about the rest.