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AIBU about SIL, DH and Hanukkah????

(113 Posts)
Iamkenny Thu 28-Jul-11 03:32:30

DH is a liberal Jew (observant on something not on others). I was raised in a Buddhist household.

This year Hanukkah falls during Christmas (Dec 20th-28th) and we try to spend Christmas time with my family and Rosh Hashanah, Pesach and Purim with his (we live closer to my family so spend more time with mine on a month to month basis)

Me and DH decided when we got married that our children would be raised culturally Jewish e.g. festivals, bat/bar mitzvah and circumcisions for our sons. But could decide on the religiously part themselves (which DH is lax on anyway)

This Christmas our DD will be 4, DS 2 and we will have 2 month old twins DD2 and DS2. We will be spending the time staying with my parents along with my sister and her family and my brother and his family.

DD is just beginning to understand and relishes all the food and the prays and the menorah

We have spent the time with my parents and sister and her family before and they throw themselves in, especially my dad, BIL and nephew who love the food. But we have never spent the time with my Brother, SIL and my niece.

My family have always known that they are welcome to buy our children and us presents for Christmas day and we buy my family presents for Christmas day. But they know that our children wont receive any other presents from DH family and that we give 8 small presents (one each day) to them

It is my DH culture that he wishes to share with his children, ( and I throw myself in as well) he relishes doing the prays and menorah with the people he loves.

I was on the phone to my SIL a few days ago and basically she said a few things that accumulated in saying that she wasn't comfortable with having her 12yr old daughter around the Hanukkah celebrations and that she herself doesn't what to be around it at all, including the food which is going to be alongside normal 'christmassy' food

I have always had a complex relationship with my SIL but we get on perfectly fine, and it's nothing obvious and can spend holidays with each other as long as we have somewhere to go to be away from each other. Also she is not religious (raised CofE but no religion and my niece has been bought up with no religion)

I was shocked and couldn't say anything. DH is very upset and now for the first time feels uncomfortable around my family, feeling that they don't accept him and therefore our children (which apart from my SIL not true)

I want to spend the time with my family, DH wants to celebrate Hanukkah with DC and we both want my family to be aware of what is a very core part of my DC and DH life

I don't know what to do????

AIBU to expect her not to care so much? And just get on with it? Especially as it seems to have come out of nowhere (she came to wedding in the temple etc.)

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 28-Jul-11 03:36:56

Your SIL is your brother's wife?

She's definitely the one in the wrong here - she's being clearly anti-Semitic, and incredibly hurtful to say that to a family who are raising their children Jewish. Of course your DH is right to be hurt - that's a horrible thing for her to say.

But I don't understand the actual dilemma. Your husband now thinks that your entire family is anti-Semitic because your SIL is? And therefore doesn't want them to come to Hanukkah?

Iamkenny Thu 28-Jul-11 03:58:23

Yep my older brothers wife.

Basically he is very upset, now feels very uncomfortable about being around any of my family, including my parents and grandparents.

He doesn't feel comfortable about having our DD and DS around my family (I'm pregnant with twins so my sister has been taking them for a few hours to give me a break while DH at work)

and he certainly doesn't feel comfortable being around any of them during Hanukkah and spending any sort of time with my family at all. Which will include my neices (sisters daughter) and my Mams birthday which are coming up.

It is also throwing him of with having them (especially my brother and family) around for DS2 bris which will occure before Hanukkah/Christmas.

He now feels that none of them accept him and therefore our children.

He's my brother and to my knowledge does not share these feelings and I do want him around (especially for DS2 bris) but I wont do that at the expence of DH and his feelings and I will always defend my children (which she is attacking)

I just don't know what to do??

(because of this I'm not talking to my brother or SIL and neither is my sister)

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 28-Jul-11 04:04:27

Okay, I understand.

Well. Your DH is throwing his toys out of the pram and it's unreasonable to expect your children to never see their uncles and grandparents - and greatgrandparents! - because of something that a sister-in-law said. I would absolutely push back on that.

Ditto, not wanting to spend time with any of your family. Unless your SIL said all that horrible stuff and the rest of your family were all there and murmuring approvingly, it's got nothing to do with them! Claiming that none of your family accept him because an in-law is an anti-Semite is a tad precious. You need to talk to him about this, because he's tarring an entire family with the same brush on the basis of something someone said, which is utterly unreasonable. While I absolutely agree that he and your children come first in your loyalties, not attending your own mother's birthday because of something her daughter-in-law, not even her daughter, said, is way beyond.

But, if the SIL doesn't "want her children around" Hanukkah celebrations, and your DH doesn't want his children around anti-Semites, you'll definitely have to come up with a new plan for the holidays. Is it possible to spend Christmas Eve and Day with your family without losing the Jewish rituals, or are the rituals every night throughout the eight days of Hannukkah? I'm sorry I don't know the details.

NotJustKangaskhan Thu 28-Jul-11 04:13:06

From my understanding of your post, there is going to be a joint Channukah-Christmas gathering with the two alongside each other and your SIL made comments that she was uncomfortable with the Channukah aspect. Your DH has become very defensive - I assume you're already trying to get him to see that not all of your family agrees with her (do they know what she said? Have they said anything about the comments? Your DH may take their lack of disapproval as approval, but if they don't know what she said your DH needs to be aware of that).

It does sound like she's really put her foot in it and may not be able to see why this is hurtful to you and your DH. Thankfully, Channukah is still a long way off (don't even want to think about it yet - I need to get through the High Holidays first!), things may change between now and then, conversations can be had and fences can be mended.

You can't force anyone be 'aware' of the core in your family's life. She would have to choose be aware. You can bring to her attention that you and your DH found her comments hurtful and that you want peace in the family so you can all come together without this between you. It's possible she won't know it hurt you - it took my FIL a while to figure out why giving presents and saying they were "not-Christmas presents" upset me - and quite likely that she won't want to ruin a family event with these issues. Your DH also needs to know that he needs to work to bring peace to the event as well.

I've actually found including my non-religious (and in some cases anti-religious) family members in more aspects of religious events made them more comfortable with them, it seems they got over their fear of the unknown and found it was just another way to do what they had always done. Your SIL may feel excluded/ignorant of Channukah and is hiding behind an 'I don't like it' front (it is also possible that her DD, at 12, has expressed discomfort/dislike for similar reasons and your SIL is covering for her). See if you can include both of them more in the festivities or, if they refuse, have them really involved in a neutral side of it so they can see both sides.

Iamkenny Thu 28-Jul-11 05:25:24


NotJustKangaskhan my sister knows what was said and has made it obvious to DH that she and her family don't agree. My parents do know what was said and I think are staying out of it, especially as it has involved me and my brother arguing, which isn't pretty and nice at all. But DH should be aware that none of my family share my SIL views.

I get what you are saying about feeling excluded/ignorant but she came to our wedding and DS bris - and surely the same logic should be aplied?? as for my neice, I suppose that is possible (they live far away and so we manage to see each other about 3 times a year) however she has not apologised and has allowed me and my brother to argue, not something you would allow to happen if you were covering for a pre-teen DD.

The other members of my family get involved and they all know they are welcome to be as involved in it as they wish (I would never expect them to do the prays) but not even the food?? at the very least it is food somehow has cooked for you, forget the festival and religious part, it is just plain polite to partake or at least try it.

As for High Holidays - all I have to worry about is being on the train to london with two DC :P


I know what you are saying, and I have already told him he's an eejit if he thinks I'm not letting my sister look after the DC.
I think it just through him - he's from north London so as a kid and a student never really came across such anti-semitic things. I come from a very liberal-left-of-left family so it was a very shocking thing for him to hear.

I think we are both just in shock

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 28-Jul-11 05:28:13

I do think it'll probably settle down when he gets over it. It can't have been pleasant for him to hear, of course. And he's absolutely right to be furious at your SIL, of course!

schomberg Thu 28-Jul-11 05:31:24

YABU to practice genital mutilation on your boys when you're clearly pretty lax about religion. You say you'd like to give them a choice on the "religious" stuff but it sounds like you've set them on track by going after their penises with a knife.

schomberg Thu 28-Jul-11 05:36:06

Also Tortoiseonthehalfshell YABVVVVVVVVVVU to claim that someone who doesn't want their child to participate in another religion's ceremonies is being "anti-semitic". The religious liberty that grants OP the freedom to mutilate the genitals of her "D"Cs cuts both ways: other people are free not to observe other religions or any religion at all. It doesn't make them any more anti-semitic than I would be islamophobic for not fasting during Ramadan.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 28-Jul-11 05:44:51

Nobody has asked the SIL to participate in the religion. OP says she doesn't expect anyone to do the prayers. The SIL is not religious at all, and doesn't have a problem with the 'Christmas' part of the celebration, so what's the difference between that and the Hanukkah part, if neither of them require her to participate in anything except the eating?

Iamkenny Thu 28-Jul-11 06:00:51

Excuse me schomberg
Lets get a few things straight.

DH laxness on the 'religiously' part are about kosher etc NOT on his belief in God or his faith. To my DH circumcision is not just about God or faith but also ties him culturally to a people and a story, it is a connection to all other Jews and bonds him with thousands of years of tradition. Which he wishes to share and pass on to our DS.
Please to not refer to something my DH (and an entire two peoples) cares so much about in such derogatory ways - if you feel like that keep it two yourself, I do not wish to hear it.
We have made the decision on circumcision, if you do not like it, well you can stuff it where the sun don't shine.

SIL and any other member of my family is welcome to practice any religion/or not as they see fit - as they do My dad is buddhist, my mam is - a non practicing - catholic.

But she partakes in the Buddhist blessing before we eat. To be so derogatory against a religion is in this case anti-semitic. I don't care if she doesn't want to be there for prays (which none of my family do either) I do care when she insults my DH and DC religion.
It is in no way the same as not fasting unless a member of your family in Islamic and observes it around you?

My parents are happy for my children to celebrate Hanakkah in THEIR house, they welcome a mixture of faiths. She does not - that is my problem.

I don't want them to participate - not if they dont want to (I don't in some parts as I am not Jewish, i will not be converting and do not believe in god) but they will have to understand that they will be around it, if they are around us on such days. It is a unwillingness to be around it that I object to - that is all.

AitchGee Thu 28-Jul-11 06:01:32

You're children are not Jewish and in my opinion, will be mixed up in later life as a result of your Jewish (possibly) husband's guilt in marrying out.

TheBossofMe Thu 28-Jul-11 06:09:08

AitchGee - evidence for that sweeping generalisation please? I have lots of Jewish friends who were born from "marrying out" relationships, and they are neither mixed up nor considered "not Jewish" except by the most orthodox of Jews.

Iamkenny Thu 28-Jul-11 06:09:42

My DH is a Liberal Jew and therefore believes that if one parent is jewish and one is not then DC are jewish if you chose to raise them as such. Which we have.

Trust me my DH carries no guilt in marrying me. How is he '(possibly)'? and my DC will not be messed up based on that.

cjbartlett Thu 28-Jul-11 06:19:28

Can you not just spend the holiday period at home and go round for Xmas lunch? You'll have 2 month old twins, you'll want to be at home anyway IMO. Invite them to yours and see who wants to come?
Above all relax, you've got a young family, life must be so busy, let this one go and tell your dh to stop worrying and not cause a family rift, you need all the support and love going , he's being selfish making such an issue of it

mummytime Thu 28-Jul-11 06:20:11

I think someone (not you) needs to talk to your SIL. Its a pity she is not religious as her Vicar would be ideal.
You parents need to talk to your husband, making it clear that they do not share your sisters views, and really want to welcome you all into their home at Christmas, and to share your celebrations.

Some Mumsnetters need to but out unless they have something positive to say. Yes you maybe anti-circumcision, or be an Orthodox Jew, but other people see things differently. Just because it is the internet doesn't mean words cannot hurt (or maybe you do go and say such things to people you just meet in the street?).

Iamkenny Thu 28-Jul-11 06:55:06

Thanks mummytime I'll mention it to my parents, though who to talk to SIL I don't know.

DD wants to do it properly and is looking forward to being with her older cousins (as in DS but not in the same way) The reason for going to parents is that we don't want to do all of it and be hosts, at least at my parents, there will be people to glance at the DC as they play and we can help but in a way that means we are not doing everything. It is also one of the few times that I get to see my brother - which i will never pass up no matter how DH feels.
He doesn't want to cause a rift, he just feels wounded. Partly because of what was said he isn't being selfish. But his reaction to the rest of my family esp with parents and sister with the 2 DC I will agree is selfish and slightly cut off, when it cooms to me needing them around (he's taking on extra hours to take all his leave as well as pat.leave when twins come - and doesn't realise exactly what it is like at home and ho lovely it is to have the DC taken away for a few hours)

Thank you all (well some of you at least)

BagofHolly Thu 28-Jul-11 06:58:25

I'm smiling, in a nice way, that you're thinking about any of this when you'll have 2 month old twins! And that's without your other children! Flipping heck love, if you're all dressed and fed, that'll be enough of an achievement, never mind worrying about anything else!

(I have a 2 year old and 6 month old twins, and my DH is from a different culture to me. When I got a summons/invitation to any family dos, we generally haven't gone, not because we don't respect each other's culture/family, but cos it's too bloody hard! Suit yourselves, if your SIL or anyone else gets offended by your choices, they'll have to jog on. I appreciate that's not an entirely helpful reply to your OP but I confidently assert your mind will be elsewhere when the time comes. Very very best of luck and congratulations on your twins! )

SeenButNotHeard Thu 28-Jul-11 07:17:44

I think, to be honest, your parents have to be involved in the sorting out of this.

It is their house, they are hosting and they need to be clear with you and your brother and sil what they would like to happen. You might want to help them in coming up with a compromise, but actually, they can't 'stay out of it'.

And, by the way, I really do think there needs to be a compromise - although I don't agree with what your sil has said, I can kind of understand her being uncomfortable. This is probably, to be fair, because she has no idea of what is involved and how things will actually pan out. You said in your op that you have never shared this time with your brother, sil and niece - they probably need some gentle reassurance.

Iamkenny Thu 28-Jul-11 07:17:45

Thanks BagofHolly
I don't know how I'm going to do it - but there we go. You are right, it definatly wont be top priority but there we go the curse of being me, an obsession with having things planned (and written down)

exoticfruits Thu 28-Jul-11 07:24:47

I think that your parents have to get involved. Has anyone asked your niece if she feels uncomfortable? At 12yrs old I'm sure she can have her own views.

AitchGee Thu 28-Jul-11 07:34:13


I do not make sweeping statements. Jewish law is quite specific...

Commandment No. 56). Not to intermarry with gentiles (Deut. 7:3).

A Jew is not considered any less of a Jew if he or she chooses to be religious or not. It is merely a quirk of birth.

wellwisher Thu 28-Jul-11 07:50:23


SIL's behaviour would only be reasonable (and would still be odious) if she was hosting the gathering at her house. As it's at your parents' house, and you have gone there before for Christmassy festivities that incorporate elements of Hanukkah, and she is the newcomer, she needs to wind her neck in. If she doesn't like your way of celebrating the festive season as an extended family, which has pleased all of you up to now, she can choose not to attend. She doesn't get to tell you that you can't see your own parents and your DCs can't see their grandparents on Christmas/Hanukkah!

However, I think it's down to your parents and/or your brother (her husband) to make this clear to her. They can't 'keep out of it' if they're hosting. Ideally, one of them should also have a word with your DH to reassure him that SIL's views are not shared by anyone else in the family. I'm sure if you frame this to your parents as your SIL driving a wedge between them and their DGCs, they will support you. If she gets her way this year she will expect it every year and your DPs will never get to see their DGCs open Christmas presents etc etc! They need to nip this in the bud.

Can't believe we are onto Christmas/Hanukkah/Buddhist/Winterval AIBUs already <weeps>

mummytime Thu 28-Jul-11 08:00:40

I would think most 12 year olds would be very tolerant and actually interested. My 8 yr old at 6 wanted to celebrate Shabbat after learning about it at her (C of E) school.

I do think with your DH it might be stress combined with all the centuries old stories of anti-sematism. So let him calm down, and then let him talk about it (although reassurance from your parents should help too).

exoticfruits Thu 28-Jul-11 08:09:41

I would have expected most 12yr olds to be interested and enjoy having an extra dimension-perhaps this is what SIL is frightened of.

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