When we interviewed Michael Schwartz from the Jewish Museum of B.C. for our podcast last week (the episode could be called “Hanukkah for Dummies” for all the questions I asked) he mentioned that he was troubled that General Gordon Elementary had essentially banned Hanukkah by not allowing kids to hang menorah alongside Christmas wreaths. Michael actually went to General Gordon as a kid and didn’t remember them having this policy in place, and the school and the school board eventually reversed the decision and apologized for it.
This was fresh in my mind when I went to the Christmas pageant at my kid’s elementary school earlier this week, on the first day of Hanukkah. Armed with my newfound knowledge of Jewish holidays I wondered why in 6 years of going to these events I had never heard mention of the other holiday happening at the same time. It’s always been all Santa and Rudolph and Christmas up in there.
I was more than surprised when, at the beginning of the assembly, two kids got up and announced that between the carols that the kids were singing they would be reading passages from the Lemony Snicket book, The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming.
Published by McSweeney’s, the book follows a personified latke as it makes its way out of the fryer and into a frustrating world filled with candy canes and other Christmas-related things. Nobody understands it and it drives him mad, until eventually he is found in the forest and taken home (and eaten!).
Hearing the kids read it was a great introduction for many, and it made me proud of the school for making the decision to have it be the thread that wove the pageant together. Hopefully it got the audience of parents interested in learning more… like we did in this week’s podcast. Which you should listen to below.