The Menorah Tree promotes pride in Jewish heritage
In October, a seminal report was released by the Pew Group surveying trends in Jewish American beliefs, practice, and the prevalence of interfaith marriage.
While 94% of participants reported that they are proud to be Jewish!!, there continues to be an evolution, especially among the younger generation, in Jewish thought and practice.
One of the main drivers is that Jews now represent only 2% of the American population. This leads to 71% of non-orthodox marriages being interfaith.
Against this backdrop, 32% of Jewish families, and 71% of Jewish interfaith families have a Christmas tree.
This is the genesis of the Menorah Tree. Although we are raising my family in a conservative Jewish home and are very active in the Jewish community, my wife grew up with a Christmas tree and wanted something as fun and as big as what she grew up with.
Personally, I love the festivity of Christmas, but a Christmas tree just wasn't for me - I wanted something with more Jewish flair - so my brother and I brainstormed on a alternative, went to our makeshift wood shop and thus the first Menorah Tree was born. This is a reflection of America today.
For those who do not like the Menorah Tree, we understand your concerns. The Menorah Tree is not meant for you.
The Menorah Tree is meant for the millions of people who want a big Jewish centerpiece in their home as a complement to all our wonderful Hanukkah traditions. It is especially for those interfaith families where a Christmas tree is currently their only option and where they would prefer a more iconically Jewish design (or maybe one to stand alongside the Christmas tree they already have). It's for those who want something big this year. It's for those who are excited to add hundreds of candles, echoing that Hanukkah is the 'Festival of Lights'. That accept garland and ornaments for what they are - just fun, no more, no less.
Most importantly, it is for people who want their kids to be proud of their Jewish heritage. My kids tell everyone in earshot about how they have a Menorah Tree. Against the landscape of Christmas trees everywhere, it makes them feel special to have something just as big and beautiful but also a bit unique.
The only way to buck some of the sobering trends in the Pew Report is to engage our families. Against all the external pressures, against all the options on everyone's time, we must look to unique and interesting ideas on how to remind people how special it is to be Jewish. At my local synagogue we are always searching out new innovative ways to 'open the tent'. To lure the community in with something fun and exciting and then sprinkle on the Judaism. For many people, the Menorah Tree, is one such option.
The Pew Report: