We preempt the regular blog update for….

I had another essay in mind for my second blog entry but since life is what happens despite, not because of, my plans, another pressing and timely topic has intruded.  The holiday season is approaching and it has begun generating all kind of emotions, questions, and confusion in my nearly seven year old daughter. She’s in first grade it’s the first year she is seeing the unequal weight being given to different religious holidays. You can’t live in America and miss Christmas. Winter break from school is really Christmas vacation despite the fact that it is no longer called that. She asked me, “Why don’t I get the eight days of Hanukah off instead?”  She doesn’t understand that the default American culture is Christianity. Sure there’s political correctness and such these days but in the end it is majority rule. Not that it should be any other way. If it were up to me I would change Hanukah’s dates to coincide with Christmas vacation then there wouldn’t be an issue. But not only is it not up to me, apparently that would destroy the meaning of Hanukah. Or so I am told. Anyway, in the end I am left trying to explain ‘being different,’ being a minority, to a seven-year old. SO I DID. Here’s my attempt. Oh, and the other reason I decided to preempt my regularly scheduled entry was that the following piece generated conversations on my Facebook site which really impressed me. The ideas and questions spanned from Buddhism to fundamentalism, from football to chess.  Enough said, here’s the poem I wrote for my daughter and the conversation we had around it.

The only Jew:    I wrote this for you!

When you’re the only Jew be proud not blue.

Gone are the days when you couldn’t be true.

Share, you’re like me and I am like you.

We like what we like and we do what we do.

Celebrating our holidays our family our friends, going to school,

Isn’t that cool?

Our similarities are high, our differences few.

But I am I, A Proud Beautiful, Jew.

Gabrielle (my 7 yr old) came home from school in a huff. “Claudia said Jews don’t get presents for Hanukah. I told her they do.”

“I want to take that off from the refrigerator.” Gabrielle was pointing to her Jewish summer camp group photo.

 “Why?” I asked. 

“Because I don’t know what to say about it. My friends always ask about it.”

“Just tell them it’s Jew Camp I said.”

“I did, and they ask me what’s Jew camp.”

“Tell them it’s like any camp, art projects, cool trips, and your dad came and volunteered.”

“Why am I the only Jew in my class? There not gonna celebrate Hanukah at school.”

“Gabrielle, what if everyone was exactly the same?”

Gabrielle looked at me in wonder. “We wouldn’t be able to recognize our parents. When we got off the bus all the houses would be exactly the same. We wouldn’t be able to find home. All our toys, everyone’s, would be exactly the same. That would be boring.” “Dad, can you read me the poem again?”

“Sure Gabrielle.”

 -Dr. Brilliant Cliché

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About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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6 Responses to We preempt the regular blog update for….

  1. Ali says:

    Nice Blog! Insofar as the question at hand, I’m very non-religious but I love the spirit of Christmas. I don’t celebrate the season because of the birth of Christ (although I respect those who do) but I celebrate it as a generic occasion for people to be nice, cheerful, and kind to each other. Unfortunately, this should be the norm all year round but let’s face it, it’s not. I take it with stride, as a result, and am happy that we at least strive to be better for part of the year. So, unless you want your daughter to be brought up as an observant member of your religion and to really feel the divide among herself vs. others, I don’t see why telling her to celebrate Christmas and be a part of it should diminish her in any way. A small gift should not be accompanied with a religious prayer – it could just be for the sake of celebrations with millions of others for whom this day is meaningful at a different level. Sometimes, I wonder, whether being a minority is a valid byproduct of the social reality we face or if it’s just a psychological barrier we neglect to ignore. Such self woven nets are often a function of our own categorization of ourselves based on some detail such as our religion, sex, creed, or the color of our skin, and its this self perception that changes the lens through which we appear to others.

    • Dear Ali,
      Good points and as it happens I heard a similar idea at a recent interfaith lecture on this topic. Their suggestion was to see Christmas as a birthday and enjoy it as such… one day with presents. Meanwhile, one can attribute religious significance, ritual, ect. to the holiday of one’s primary culture. In this way, it’s possible to treat the two occasions differently while ignoring neither. As for the minority identity issue, that is a bigger question. It can go both ways. If an apple decided it was just to identify itself solely under the larger catagory of Fruit, an orange might still freak out when the apple tried to marry its daughter!

      It is true, as you say, self perception changes the lens through which we appear to others. Yet we can ignore our minority status and still be shunned by others in society. The question then is should we ignore our minority status? No! Why not be proud of it and take the stance of an educator and teacher? No matter what reaction others give you, if you assume it’s from the standpoint of just not knowing, then teaching (not preaching) becomes not only the right thing to do but a benefit to everyone. The same lecture I mentioned earlier offered up this idea as the stance that the most well adjusted kids took; and they seem to be doing well with their identities as adults.

      Thanks again for your excellent comments,
      -Dr. Brilliant Cliché

  2. Ali says:

    Dr. Brilliant Cliche,
    I agree that one may be shunned by others due to his/her status despite his/her own belief to the contrary; but the fact that all of us find folks out there who reject us, whether we’re a member of a minority or not is nothing new. Members of the majority often face similar rejection based on all types of other values, including dissimilar political beliefs, economic status, or competing ideologies. To create a barrier only to avoid being shunned is hardly an embracing global philosophy. Minority and majority status are labels and definitions we ascribe to a set of differences among people. The largest majority club of all, a club which we all belong to, is the human species! Aren’t we all a majority in that club? The minority status created by our subset of cultures and physical variations is really a function of the ignorance of our species as a whole, which fails to focus on our similarities rather than our differences. When we learn to do that we soon understand the futility our arguments and the pettiness of our contentions in dealing with members of our own species.

    • Dear Ali,
      I do not disagree with you as to the idea we are all one. However, although humans may be social animals, we are also territorial animals.
      Our need to separate, label, classify, define territory, and wage war comes from our territorial side. It will always be so. Reality in all things is a duality.
      Our social nature will always compete and conflict with our territorial nature. There will always be an ebb and flow as to which side is most prominent at any given point in time. During a disaster or external threat people pool together and the social side is favored. In times of piece and prosperity, factions of discontent form and eventually topple the status quo. It is our duel nature and will always be so.
      Thanks again for your great comments,
      -Dr Brilliant Cliché.

  3. Ali says:

    I’m not sure if the issue is territoriality or mere self-interest. The fact is that we all deal with the problem of limited resources in this world. So, our natural tendency is to strategize to maximize our self interest. If there were never ending opulence I’m sure we’d care less about these matters. Kind of reminds me of a bacterial log, plateau, and death phase in a petri dish. While there’s enough agar and room, it’s all a boom… and it’s all good before they start eating each other out! Oh well… thankfully we’re still not there as a species!

    • I agree and in a way we are there now. One way I mean life is a duality is what you said. There is self and there is others. There is no answer for this only the best balance we can maintain. Studies in one species of monkeys’ shows in time of feast the monkeys show little aggression towards each other and there are few psychotic births (violent monkeys.) In time of famine or stress there is a high level of psychotic births (violent monkeys) and aggression towards each other increases. Violent monkeys have an overall increased rate of survival in times of limited resource. The human species is under increased stress due to population growth and poor resource management. There has been an increase in abhorrent/violent births.
      -Dr Brilliant Cliché

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