Religion & Beliefs

A cure for loneliness and holiday angst

As someone who has spent a lot of years celebrating her Jewish holidays alone (I went to a college with a grand total of TWELVE Jews!) I’ve found that if you don’t belong to a synagogue, and you don’t live … Read More

By / December 4, 2006

As someone who has spent a lot of years celebrating her Jewish holidays alone (I went to a college with a grand total of TWELVE Jews!) I’ve found that if you don’t belong to a synagogue, and you don’t live near family… holidays can be really hard. 

It sucks to fast by yourself at Yom Kippur.  It sucks to make latkes for people who want to put catsup on them.  It sucks to give up altogether and just get wasted with your non-jewish friends. 

But at the same time, it’s hard to penetrate a Jewish community you don’t really belong to.  It’s awful to sit at a big table in dress clothes, sharing your Seder with complete strangers, because you begged the rabbi at a synagogue you don’t attend to find you “a place to go.” 

So I’m offering this tip, for anyone out there who would like to celebrate Chanukah in a special way this year, but doesn’t quite know how.  For people who have found that lighting a menorah alone is… lonely.  The tip is KIDS! 

KIDS! KIDS! KIDS!  Holidays like Chanukah and Purim and Sukkot are best spent with children anyway, since they get super-excited, sing songs and love sugary and greasy foods.  They’re really fucking cute and they actually think dreidels are exciting.  Their energy is infectious and makes the holiday feel… like a real holiday.  Even if they aren’t yours. 

So the best advice I have for the holidays is to find a JCC (there’s one near you!) or a synagogue, and skip the adult interactions, but go for the kiddie-parties.  If you want you can even call and offer to help (which people will appreciate because where there are kids there are messes, and extra hands are always welcome).    Kiddie-parties also tend to be instructive, with simpler version of the stories and less Hebrew.  So if you’re someone who feels a little lost at a “real” synagogue service, the Chanukah donut-party at your local JCC might be just the thing. 

I know it sounds a little creepy to go lurk where the kiddies play, but I promise you, you’ll be glad you did.