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One house shares two traditions


By Karen Eckert
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, December 6, 2018

For one Greenville-area family, Hanukkah shares time with Christmas.

Missy and Phillip Goldstein moved to Greenville from Brooklyn, N.Y. eight years ago. Missy and the children, Ben, 8, and twins Evan and Alex, 6, are Lutheran. Phil grew up Jewish in the Reform branch. As a family, they all attend St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

The Goldsteins celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in their home, which was among five in St. Paul’s annual Christmas Home Tour. Visitors got a flavor of both holidays at the Goldstein house.

“When we got married we agreed that we were going to raise the children Christian, but we would still celebrate the Jewish holidays because Jesus was Jewish and he celebrated these holidays,” said Missy Goldstein.

A Hanukkah menorah resides on the mantle over the fireplace in the Goldstein home. The family lights the menorah candles each night during Hanukkah, usually after supper. The boys and Phil wear yarmulkes (head coverings). Phil recites the blessings in Hebrew.

At some point during the eight days of Hanukkah the Goldsteins play the dreidel game. The dreidel is a small four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. The letters form an acronym for the saying, A miracle happened there,” referring to the Macabees’ lamp that burned in ancient Jerusalem for eight days instead of one.

“We have the gelt (chocolate coins usually wrapped in silver or gold foil), which are used with the dreidel. You spin the dreidel and depending on what letter it lands on you get none (of the coins) or take all or take half,” said Goldstein.

“I do make the traditional potato pancakes called latkes,” said Goldstein. “That’s a lot of fun ... it’s about the oil and I have friends whose family would make donuts [and] they would have donuts on Hanukah and that was always cool.”

This year, the first day of Hanukkah and the first day of Advent, which is celebrated in Christian churches and also involves lighting candles, fell on Sunday, Dec. 2. For the Goldsteins that meant there were plenty of candles to light.

“It’s fun for us because Hanukkah coincides with Christmas and that initial excitement of the Christmas season. And then you have this wonderful little segue, this little festival of lights and we get to celebrate Hanukah ... it’s something else to be festive about,” said Goldstein.

Contact Karen Eckert a keckert@reflector.com and 329-9565.