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The contemporary custom of wrapping presents gifts arose in conjunction with Christmas, but many aspects of gift-giving have distinctly Jewish roots, each of which has helped set the stage for the development of the ritual into what it is today.
As we each shared some favorite holiday memories, my partner asked, “So what does each candle of Hanukkah symbolize?” Puzzled, I asked him to explain what he meant. “You know, like for Kwanzaa.”
When I was a student at the Anshe Emet Day School in Chicago, Illinois, I had a Hebrew teacher who suggested that every night before we went to sleep, it would be meaningful to recite the last verse of Adon Olam. As an impressionable and obedient fourth grader, I took to heart her suggestion and incorporated what became a comforting and soothing personal prayer with my nightly recitation of the Sh’ma:
Childhood memories are vague at the best of times. Our remembrances tend to be pictures shown and stories told to us by others. But what happens when a family chooses not to remember because the memories are too painful or too shameful?