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This 1998 EMMY Award-winning film is a tender look into the life of a little Jewish girl at Christmas time.
Sometimes it's not easy being Jewish at Christmas time. Especially for Robin, a young Jewish girl, who absolutely, positively looooves Christmas trees. Although Robin understands that Christmas is not a Jewish holiday, she can't help longing for a tree of her own. So, when a Jewish classmate tells Robin about a Chanukah Bush "...it's like a Christmas tree -- it has lights and decorations and everything -- but it's for Jews.." Robin races home to tell her parents the great news.
Her parents are not so enthusiastic. "There's no such thing as a Chanukah Bush," they explain. "What your friend has is a Christmas tree and we do not celebrate Christmas in our home." That night, Grandpa comes over for dinner and invites Robin to his union's Christmas party, an annual celebration he helps organize for the workers and their families.
Robin goes to the party with Grandpa and, although shy at first, is swept into the festivities by a funny new friend. On the way home, Robin asks why it's all right for her to go to a Christmas party but not to have a Christmas tree at home. Grandpa lovingly explains "...I think there is a big difference between celebrating something because you believe in it and helping friends celebrate something because they believe in it." True friends, he says, share what is beautiful in their own lives and cultures, the way Robin shares her Passover seder and the lighting of the Chanukah candles with her best friend Heather.
Chanukah Bush teaches children to honor the differences between cultures, to take pride in their own heritage, and to share their traditions with others.
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Almost every Jewish child who lives in the U.S. has experienced it: that longing for a Christmas tree. And every now and then, he or she may encounter a child who has a Chanukah Bush, which is just "like a Christmas tree... but it's for Jews." Parents may find themselves hard pressed to explain why they won't put a tree up in their own home, even though others may do so. There's No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein is the Emmy-winning (for Outstanding Achievement for Children's Programs) 23-minute film about young Robin, a girl who wants a tree so badly that she dreams of decorated trees beckoning to her. Despite her mother's explanation that people are Jewish in different ways, which is why Sandy Goldstein can have a Christmas tree and they cannot, Robin still desires one of her own. A night out at a Christmas party with her grandfather changes her wishes, though, when she learns that it's OK to enjoy other people's trees as you help them celebrate their holidays, just as they can help you celebrate yours. "There's a difference between celebrating something because you believe in it and helping friends celebrate something because they believe in it." This is a lovely story that will appeal to young children and help them to understand and appreciate the traditions and cultures of others. --Jenny BrownReview:
"A credible treatment of a touchy topic. Every Jewish child who has felt like a stranger in his own country at Christmastime will empathize...." -- Booklist
"Hooray for this long overdue story which pinpoints the left-out feelings of Jewish children during the Christmas season." -- Checklist
"It is difficult to be a minority anyway, especially at a time of year when the whole world seems to be celebrating something forbidden to you.....Chanukah Bush gives new insight into the difference between helping friends celebrate their holiday, and celebrating one of your own." -- Holiday's Remembered
"Robin's story can serve as a model for our own children." -- The Boston Jewish Times
"Sussman solves the dilemma of being Jewish in America at Christmas." -- American Jewish Congress Monthly
"There's No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein goes to the heart of what it often feels like for children to be Jewish at Christmas time." -- Jewish Heritage
"[Chanukah Bush]...could stimulate lively, meaningful discussions in classes, especially in groups who have some students whose families to do not celebrate Christmas." -- Media Services, Raleigh, NC.
"[Chanukah Bush]...should be mandatory for all Jewish children who wonder why they can't have a Christmas tree and are in the process of dealing with being different in a Christian country. A wonderful story!" -- Baltimore Jewish Times
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