12/05/2012 01:40 pm ET Updated Feb 04, 2013

Why I'm Not Telling My Daughters the Story of Hanukkah

I love the Hanukkah story. It's a classic Jewish tale of individuals staying true to their values, underdogs triumphing over oppressors and the power of miracles to sustain hope. It's the kind of story that makes me proud to be Jewish and so grateful that we can display our glowing menorah without fear or shame.

We will be celebrating Hanukkah once again this year, lighting candles, eating latkes, opening presents and spinning dreidels. We'll sing Hanukkah songs, and read books about counting eight nights. We'll talk about the holiday a lot, but I'm not going to tell my girls the story of Judah the Maccabee.

Not yet.

Like so many other Jewish stories that have withstood the test of time, this one is about anti-Semitism, oppression and murder. It's about people being forced to make horrible choices in the face of insurmountable odds.

My girls are young (just 2 and 4), and they're lucky to have lived a fairly peaceful life so far. I'm not sure they even know what it means to kill or be killed, and they certainly have no clue that they are part of a community that has been on the receiving end of hatred and violence for centuries. They'll learn about it all soon enough (hopefully from a history book rather than direct experience), and once they do, their perspective on the world will be changed forever. I'd like to delay that reality for as long as possible.

As American Jews, we're living in a safe space and a blessed time. My daughters are proud that we're "Hanukkah people," which they are learning about from their Catholic daycare provider, their Hebrew school teacher, their Bubbe and Zayde, and most importantly, their parents.

Teaching the stories and lessons of the Jewish people to my daughters is a big responsibility, and one that I take seriously -- even when that means not telling the story at all.

Hanukkah Around The World
Hanukkah Around The World