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Can Jews put up a tree?


Forum: Jewish Parenting

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  #1  
December 2nd, 2008, 11:08 AM
curlesue's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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To make a long story short... I converted to Judaism 4 years ago (conservative). We had become more religious than any of DH's family members.

Lately, though,... we've stopped going to synagogue (we don't live close to any that I would want to become members with)... I had Benjamin during passover so we didn't really celebrate that holiday. I was really sick last Rosh Hashanah and this year ... we only had a family dinner (no services since we don't belong anywhere yet).

In the beginning of our relationship...we celebrated both holidays. When I decided to convert (for me, not for DH), we only celebrated Jewish holidays in our home. I was raised with Christmas and Easter but not from a religious standpoint (trees, presents, santa, Easter egg hunts etc).

I thought all along that it wouldn't be a big deal when we had kids. Ben had a traditional circumcision ceremony with a rabbi. He was given a Hebrew name. Although we don't keep kosher, we light candles and try to make shabbat special...

Having said that though...I really really REALLY miss Christmas this year. All the traditions that I had as a kid ...I won't be able to have with Ben. We bought Ben his own hanukkiah this year... which is exciting...but all I really want is a tree. I want to buy Ben a new ornament every year. Santa doesn't have to visit... he won't have his picture with Santa...but I just really want a tree. Not a hanukkah bush,... not a holiday tree...but a Christmas tree.

Needless to say.. DH is having a hard time with it. He's trying to be supportive and understanding...but he feels really uncomfortable by it. He's also afraid of what our friends and family will think...and he's worried that Ben will be confused.

I feel so sad about the whole thing.

I'm sorry if I've offended people. I fully embraced the conversion...but it's so hard now that Ben is here. I want him to have the same traditions that I had.

Any advice?
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  #2  
December 3rd, 2008, 03:24 PM
rachna's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Honestly I say no. Personally it bugs me when Jews try to do "christmasy" things, I get frustrated when I explain that I dont celebrate it, then everyone tells me they have a jewish friend who puts up a christmas tree.

That being said, I understand where you are coming from, and get that you miss traditions you gew up with which is very understandable. I think it is for you to decide, and for you to do what is best for your family.

The other thing is you could make your traditions work for Ben and your family. Make hannukkah decorations with him, or get him some kind of Jewish thing each year.
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  #3  
December 3rd, 2008, 07:24 PM
curlesue's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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thanks for the advice... I really appreciate it.

DH and I are still talking about it... it's a touchy situation.
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  #4  
December 4th, 2008, 12:36 PM
Mom2DavidandAaron's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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I agree with Rachna. I mean, if the question is can you put up a tree, well, you can do whatever you want. Each person has his own feleings about these situations. If you're asking if Judaism allows for Christmas trees, then I can only answer from the POV of orthodox Judaism and the answer would be no. I don't really no how Conservative and Reform Judaism feels about adopting symbols from other religions. In traditional, orthodox Judaism is a no-no.
But, as I said, anyone is free to choose how they want to celebrate. It's understandable that you'll feel nostalgic for certain traditions.

Sharon
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  #5  
December 14th, 2008, 12:48 AM
mamabeeto3's Avatar Super Mommy
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As others have said - you can do what you want. But if you put up a Christmas tree then you ARE celebrating that holiday. I too dislike when Jews do Chrismassy things. I hate those that do both because their kids want to fit "in". Fit in??? You are only confusing them.

I understand you missing many of the traditions you grew up with. Maybe instead though you can begin to make new holiday memories - surrounding Chanukah. Make cookies, make latkes from scratch (that is a DEFINITE memory), etc. Make homemade decorations to hang around. Collect a new dreidle each year. Locate other Jewish families with babies - get involved. Find a synagogue that you do like - if not join currently to attend different services and programs.

Either way you have a lot of thinking to do and decide what religion you want to practice and teach - it sounds like.

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  #6  
December 22nd, 2008, 11:25 AM
Mommy2n1
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We have a tree because my husband is not Jewish, I am. I do the Jewish stuff he does the Christian stuff. Really he is non-practicing but he likes the traditions that he had as a child. He had thought about converting, but never did. Over all we are raising the kids Jewish, I am in charge of that stuff, but they celebrate Christmas too because that is their heritage too. They are not confused by it.. but then again my older kids are 9 and 13. Keira is 17 months and really doesn't understand any of it.
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  #7  
January 7th, 2009, 02:36 AM
Alchemist's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Actually i have to add this in (not to offend but i have thought about the environmental issues in my own life)

It is forbidden for a jew to cut down a tree unless he plants two more trees in its place. Something to add which is not that relevant to this discussion but maybe it is :-)

On the topic, i have to say - you have converted to judasim and therefore you need to embraqce it totally. just becasue its a new culture doesnt mean you cant create traditions which are as special to you or your son as your old traditions.

for example - a tradition my DH's family does is when you say the bracha over the challah, the whole family creates a chain and holds hands to the challah...its so cool and creates a unique family feeling.

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  #8  
January 27th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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Hello everyone This is my first post on the forum.

Regarding a tree - I am in the process of conversion now. My husband is Jewish. I had no problems giving up the tree or keeping kosher etc. so I can't quite understand where you are coming from. However, I know it is very difficult to dive into another tradition (and try to get your kids excited about it) when it seems everyone else in the world is doing something different. Suddenly we feel very much like minorities!

We celebrate with the small group of Jewish friends we have and try to make the holidays special- something to look forward to, something filled with spiritual significance.

What is it about a tree that is so very important?

I can see how it could be confusing for a kid- we have had many talks with our child about why certain cultures celebrate in certain ways. We are always very factual about it. The world has some beautiful traditions. We have our own traditions. If the Jews stopped living out the Jewish traditions (or muttled them up with a mishmash of various other traditions) we would loose our uniqueness, our calling as Jews.


I would guess your husband is not feeling great about the tree thing, not simply because it's a Christmas Tree, but more so because you committed to live as a Jew and raise your children as Jews and wanting to bring in these non-Jewish customs undermines the very thing you committed to do.

Being different is very much a part of being Jewish. It's not a bad thing! It just takes some adjustment. Talk with your husband - as much as you need to. Don't let things build up inside- that can lead to resentment. Talk about it, pray about it.

Bless you-






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  #9  
January 28th, 2009, 02:44 AM
Alchemist's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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That was beautiful Talmida,

I love to meet ladies who convert (my one good friend converted this year and is now married and expecting). She has taught me so much about Judasim and its given me so much delight in learning with her.... in fact if i have any questions on kashrut, shes the one i ask ha ha

Good luck in the process.....
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  #10  
January 29th, 2009, 07:58 AM
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Oh, thank you. I'm at at the very beginning of the process but it's a wonderful journey for sure!
Shalom!
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  #11  
February 2nd, 2009, 03:19 AM
Alchemist's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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it is worth it i am sure. to accomplish something so hard....

i am trying to finish my masters degree. not easy but i am hoping to finish this coming year.....
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  #12  
February 17th, 2009, 02:21 PM
Bluebunnygirl1's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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It is indeed a touchy subject and I guess we all have to do what works best for us and our families. I am not going to judge whats right or wrong, but here are my personal experiences:

As a child, we had a "Chanukah bush" in our home which was of course, a Christmas tree. My dad was raised Lutheran and converted to Judaism before my parents got married, and he really wanted a tree. It was something that meant a lot to him, a lot of nostalgia and him wanting to share his happy childhood memories with us. I didn't feel confused by it, other than why were we calling it a Chanukah bush? It was quite obviously, a small plastic Christmas tree.

Now as an adult, I also married a man who was raised Lutheran and converted to Judaism. Mike truly has embraced Judaism with his whole heart. We do not have a Christmas tree, or bush, in our home. However, it is not easy for the kids, being raised here in Iowa where there are not many Jews, they make Christmas decorations and such at school, learn Christmas carols in music class, everything. Every year on Christmas Day, we visit Mikes parent's house, and the kids get to give them whatever Christmasy stuff they've made, and look at their tree. But they understand that it's not our holiday.
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  #13  
February 19th, 2009, 01:59 AM
Alchemist's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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its great your hubby has embraced Judaism. It is always difficult differing tradtions within one family which is why its important to spend time at a synagogue where your kids can feel they belong somewhere. are you active shul goers?
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  #14  
February 27th, 2009, 04:07 PM
Bluebunnygirl1's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
its great your hubby has embraced Judaism. It is always difficult differing tradtions within one family which is why its important to spend time at a synagogue where your kids can feel they belong somewhere. are you active shul goers?[/b]
Yes we are! We go every Friday for Shabbat services (it's close to sunset now, we will be heading out the door in a few!) , take our kids to Sunday School, Jessica is in midweek Hebrew school also. Mike and I both participated in an adult b'nai mitzvah class and had our ceremonies as adults, just before Jessica was born. Now we both teach Sunday School, and Mike is on the Temple's executive board. (And likely he is also next in line to be President of the congregation)
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  #15  
March 2nd, 2009, 03:15 AM
Alchemist's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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thats great..... i am active in the shul, but only on the weekend. i guess when i have kids i will be more involved. I keep a kosher home but am not shomrei yet (i say yet but its a huge step for us and i reckon one we'll only take when we have kids).....

My BIL is also on the board..... you def have to have the personality but its great that your hubby is so involved..... it gives him meaning and purpose. i am hoping my hubby does more but he is so unbalanced at the moment. he really throws himself into work.... i really need to help him balance his life a bit more. i giess thats what a wifes duty is, to help hubby :-)
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