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Monday, December 05, 2005

“Finally, someone remembered Chanukah!”

Even in good times, it is daunting to be Jewish in an America where four out of five people are Christian. For example, during one Christmas saturation period from Thanksgiving to the New Year, I took my son to the mall (a rare trip for us!) to see the Lubavitch Hasidim light a menorah in a public space. Nataniel commented, “Finally, someone remembered Chanukah!” It is hard for a Jewish child to grow up with the knowledge that he or she is not normative. Jewish children who seek acceptance and want to avoid the anti-Jewish slurs so commonly spoken in their schools, or to fit into the sports team that prays to Christ before every game, often choose to hide or leave behind the Jewish part of their identity in order to fit in. Given that children in school often divide themselves along racial lines, Jewish children are faced with the issue of how they place themselves in a world that does not allow them to be themselves. Many Jewish people grow up with negative feelings about being Jewish. Jews are very vulnerable to assimilation into normative whiteness. This is not a positive development.

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