Celebrating Hanukkah after divorce

Celebrating Hanukkah and Co-Parenting

December 5, 2017
BY: Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O'Cathain & O'Cathain

How to plan Hanukkah after divorce

Hanukkah is an 8-day long Jewish holiday also commonly known as the “festival of lights.”  It celebrates a military victory of a small army of Jews (the Maccabees) over the large Greek army, as well as the miracle of burning the menorah candles for eight nights using only a single small vessel of pure oil. While Hanukkah is a minor religious holiday, it has become incredibly popular among Jews in America. Hanukkah begins at sundown on the 25th day of Jewish month, Kislev.

The sole mandatory religious observance of Hanukkah is the lighting of the menorah, also known as the Hanukkah. There are eight candles, one for each night of the holiday, and one helper candle used to light the others. On each night of Hanukkah, another candle is lit and various prayers are said. Afterwards, many families sing songs and play games such as the dreidel. It is also traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes because of the miracle of the oil.

Making The Best Out of Hannukah For Your Children

So, if you share custody of your children, how can you share Hanukkah?  Since the holiday spans eight consecutive days, Hanukkah can certainly throw a wrench in parenting plans. On top of that, because the Jewish calendar is partly lunar and partly solar (while the secular calendar is purely solar), Hanukkah is not celebrated on predictable days in the way that other holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas are. Hanukkah may fall as early as the end of November, and sometimes not begin until after Christmas.

Plan Ahead

One of the most important way to simplify the sharing of Hanukkah is to plan ahead.  Being aware of the Jewish calendar can help avoid confusion and conflicts with other holidays or obligations.

Communication is Key

Communication is always key to minimizing the disruption of the children’s schedules.  Make sure you know what the other parent is planning for each night of Hanukkah and see if there is a way to equally split the nights.  Basing this on how each parent historically celebrates Hanukkah can ease the transition for the children.

Share Custody

If both you and your spouse or ex-spouse are observant Jews, do your best to share the many days of this holiday.  Over the course of the eight days, if possible, try to alternate the days each year.  For instance, alternating the first day every year allows the children to celebrate with both sides of their families.  If one of you is not strictly observant and does not celebrate every day of this eight-day holiday, perhaps opt out of sharing, and trade Hanukkah for other holidays that you do celebrate.  If neither of you are observant, consider not deviating from your normal parenting time schedule during this time.

Be Wary Of Possible Conflicts

As Hanukkah begins at sundown each night and the sun sets earlier in the winter, be aware of any activities the children have that could interfere with the beginning of the holiday.  This will decrease the likelihood of surprise conflicts.

If you and your spouse or ex-spouse are not both Jewish, make sure to check if Hanukkah conflicts with any other holidays that your spouse or ex-spouse may celebrate.  For instance, if one of the days of Hanukkah falls on Christmas and your spouse or ex-spouse is Christian, try your best to come up with specific contingencies in the event there is a conflict.  The more detailed you can be in your agreement, the less likely it is that there will be confusion or arguments in the future.

Good luck, and happy Hanukkah from the New Jersey family attorneys at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC!