Thursday, December 10, 2020

A Jewish Perspective on Christmas (Eleanor)

At Best Day we try not to use themes or pressure our older buds to write about specific topics. As a result, we unfortunately do not have a Hanukkah story to post for the first night of Hanukkah. However, we have older bud Eleanor's story about her experiences with Christmas as a Jewish girl in a mostly White Christian neighborhood. It's important to spread and share the traditions of older buds of all backgrounds, but it's also important to learn and share their experiences with the dominant culture, whatever that may be. Once you understand that, you can understand the best ways to share and promote the culture of the unknown and oppressed. You also understand how traditions can change and be changed by immigrants and celebrants all over the globe. For instance, did you know that many of our most famous Christmas songs were created by Jewish songwriters?

Without further ado, here's older bud Eleanor's Christmas Story:

Eleanor Kazdan


A Jew at Christmas

            Growing up in Toronto in the 1950’s there were almost no other Jewish families in our neighborhood. Many of the people on our street were Irish and Scottish immigrants. The Bells, the Charltons, the Youngs. It was no secret that we were Jewish, didn’t go to church, and didn’t celebrate Christmas. Our house was the only one devoid of beautiful Christmas lights, and magical Christmas trees. Our next door neighbors, the Bells often invited me to events at their church. I learned to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam.” At Christmas I went over to their house, where under their brightly decorated tree there awaited a gift for me.

            I was always a bit sad at Christmas time. I made a “Christmas tree” out of chairs and construction paper. I sang Christmas carols with the school choir. My favorite to this day is “Hark the Herald Angels sing.” As a young writer, I wrote stories and plays about Christmas.

            I must say that the modern world is more inclusive. My own children never felt the envy that I did. School concerts included token music of Hanukah and Kwanzaa. In some ways it’s easier to be different. But in other ways it’s worse. But that’s a story for another day.

If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at You can also share our older buds' adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And if you know older buds with Hanukkah stories (or stories of being one of the only Jewish families in a Christian neighborhood), then you or they can submit them through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri