This Chanukah message is an excerpt from the Barvazim class newsletter written by Morah Galya.
"...I would like to add a personal note. When my husband and I moved from Israel with our two-year-old daughter (she’s now 15) we were in a shock when Chanukah came around the corner. We didn’t understand what was happening, and we felt lost. Until today, I still kind of feel lost but now that our daughters are getting older we are starting to find ourselves again. I will explain to you what I mean.
The whole concept of buying presents for eight nights was something new for us. We didn’t understand it and we felt peer pressure. So, when the girls were young, we felt like any new immigrant...we had to do what all Jewish parents do so that our girls wouldn’t feel different. Soon we came to understand that we were still different because we gave our daughters very small presents. Then the questions came, "Why don’t we get a Wi? or Ugg boots?", or what ever they heard from all their friends. The pressure to buy presents and to live up to the expectations took away the joy of the Holiday.
Yes, we fell for it for a few years but we always reminded them the real purpose of the holiday and how families in Israel celebrate. Finally this year, our daughters, who are now 12 and 15, told us that they don’t need anything. NEED is the key word here because most kids in our community and Montgomery County really don’t need anything. So, this year we are going back to our roots. We will light for eight nights the Chanukiah; say the blessings; sing songs; and eat yummy, oily foods. We will miss our family but will celebrate with friends who became our family.
I would like to remind you all that even tough you live here where Christmas is a big part in everyday live (even for Jewish children because we see the decorations; hear the songs; see the movies and commercials on TV) don’t let yourselves get carried away. In the end when your children are older they won’t remember the presents that they received year after year but what they will remember is the lighting of the Chanukiah, the blessings, the songs, and most of all with who they were. It’s all about togetherness!!!