The Matzav Rant: What’s the Deal With Chanukah Vacation?


chanukah-menorahBy Shmuel Miskin

Why am I writing this article now, in the middle of the day, to be published on Usually, I do my writings for The Matzav Rant  during the evenings for publication the next day. But now I am writing from my office at home. Because I am stuck at home. Not that I mind being home to watch my kids – but not at the expense of having to take off from work.

My children’s school has given Chanukah vacation. Apparently, no one has thought of the fact that some of us actually have to work outside of our homes. In many cases, such as mine, both the mother and father have to work. So who exactly is supposed to be watching our children? My two sons have off today. My daughters have off Thursday and Friday. Did anyone bother to think about who is going to be watching the kids?

And how about the choshuveh yungeleit whose wives don’t work in the teaching profession? Who is supposed to be watching their children on the days off? The wife is at work and the husband is in yeshiva. Has anyone considered this? Are we now advocating for yungeleit to have to stay home to watch their children because the schools have decided that it is time for vacation?

And by the way, getting babysitters is not a simple solution. For one, many of the teenage girls have off from school and therefore want to spend their time with their friends, not baby-sitting. That’s besides for the cost of hiring a baby-sitter. And, in younger families, there aren’t teenage children who can be relied upon to stay home with the younger kids. 

Sure, after enjoying a two-day Chanukah vacation, the rabbeim and teachers will feel recharged and ready to give their students their all, as every good rebbi and teacher should. The students, as well, have  time to relax and enjoy themselves, and hopefully are ready and excited to continue and grow and flourish.

But are schools actually considering what is really right and best for everyone? Are all Yiddishe parents supposed to start taking off from work right and left every Chanukah to baby-sit for their kids? And even if you answer that we should, can’t the schools coordinate themselves so that everyone has off the same day(s)?

Am I the only person in this matzav?

Does anyone actually think these things through?

{Shmuel Newscenter}


  1. i have the same issue. i work and my husband learns in yeshiva. i do work in a school setting, but my school doesnt have the same vacations as my children do. it’s true that it is very hard for parents to have their children home when they are at work, but put yourselves in the teachers and childrens shoes. everyone needs a break. I enjoy my job and really put myself into it, but i still wait from one vacation to the next. so yes, it is hard to figure out what to do with my children on each vacation. but i still think that there should be vacation. In order for teachers to be able to teach and students to be able to learn there needs to be these couple of days off every little while.

  2. I agree with the poster 100% – I think originally the time was given off because so many kids were absent anyway due to the ‘shabbos chanuka’ family get togethers, that it was impractical to have classes – in that vein – it is a little unfair to make the teachers come, if all the kids are not going to come- They are not the babysitters of the town! – So this is really a case of ‘everybody’s right’ or everybody has a point. Let’s all try to work it out by helping each other – volunteer to babysit for your friends/family who have to work –

  3. Its just old ‘Chukas Hagoiyim’.
    Yeh, the rebbi’s need a break, the morahs need a break. Yeh, the good events are all open now.
    Just learn some Halacha or ask a objective rov (who’s not on a Chinuch board) and they will tell you that in torah teaching there are no breaks. The minds of teachers and ruach of torah teachers are supposed to be 7/24/360 in chinuch and on the talmidim / dos.
    Breaks, Vacations,trips and other time-wasters is as goish as it comes.
    Yes in our chinch institutions there are some goish things that have crept in, but it is nothing to be proud of.
    Maybe it has to be done and accepted, but it is not a torah’dik or jewish mesorah.

  4. Slowly but slowly the schools will begin to catch on that most mothers are working these days. Eventually the school calendars will adjusted accordingly.

  5. Who is supposed to be watching your kids????? YOU!!!!!!!!! It is your and your wife’s responsibility. End of story. If you don’t like it, have your wife stay home like she is suppose to.

  6. OK, you send your kids to a Yeshiva and they give vacation. You don’t agree with the vacation schedule and so you go online to “rant” to the world about it.

    How about getting involved with the Yeshiva and working to fix what you see as a problem?

    Did you approach a member of the Board? A member of the committee that decides the calender? Have you asked to be involved in planning next year’s calender so your voice can be heard by people that matter, rather than by the masses reading this online?

    BTW- I totally agree that the yeshivos should coordinate vacations, so the boys and girls don’t have different days off, so to completely foul-up a full week’s schedule.
    But as we know that will never happen because boys and girls yeshivos can never be off at the same time…but thats a different rant, no?

  7. Some of the “modern” schools give “chanuka” vacation later in the month when it is more common for working people to be off.

  8. It appears to me to be a plot to insure that in a family of 5 children and 3 schools there are three different Chanukah vacations and 3 different midwinter vacations. So on a week like this some kids have off Sunday and Monday, some Thursday and Friday, some Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and some next Sunday. I used to think this was a feeble attempt to five the boys and the girls off at different times but I’ve concluded that this is just random

  9. Vacations from school are hard on working parents, but if you want it to be coordinated with work, are you willing to let them be off for the goyishe holidays?

  10. and now that my kids are home today, I am not suppose to be surfing the internet with them around too? did the schools take this into account as well?

  11. To #1, I work at a regular non-chinuch job and I never have off. Well, I have a few days a year that I use for yom tov. That’s life. So while it’s nice for the teachers to have a break, it’s not necessity, and if it is, then every teacher should take off at a different time and arrange substitutes.

    #5, what about all the schools that don’t want kids from homes where the father is working. Do they also expect the mother not to work? Not to mention homes where both parents have to work in order to meet tuition payments. It’s practically not possible to be frum on one salary anymore. Most mothers/wives don’t have the luxury of staying home these days, unfortunately, and there’s no point in the schools being in denial about that.

  12. #8 – They may as well call a spade a spade. In the case you describe they are not providing Chanukah but rather they are having Xmas vacation.

  13. Stop ranting kids need a break once and while be happy u have kids to stay home for. As for the tips u have alot of chutzpah for complaining about that the rebbes, morahs and office staff deserve it, they work hard for your children and barely can make ends meet with their paychecks (if and when they get them).

  14. Schools are not babysitting services. Complaints like this show you have no other expectations of the places where you send your kids. Kids pick up on these things (by the way).

  15. Yeshivas are not babysitters. They do not exist to watch your children while you work (no, I do not work in a yeshiva, and, yes, when my children were young it was very difficult for me). That’s just life and, since we know that this happens every year (sukkos, pesach & shavuous, too-the kids always had more vacation than I did) it’s just more effective to plan for these days than complain about them. Maybe a group of friends/family can join together and trade off days. I think the kids do need a break. It’s also very difficult when children are sick. And it’s made even more difficult when children are sent back to school before they are really feeling better, thus infecting other children.

  16. when I went to school (way back in the 60’s and 70’s – the dark ages) who had off from school from Rosh Chodesh on (for Pesach) and Chanukah – no one heard of such a thing. and beleive it or not, we still had yom tov and enjoyed them more, w/less stress than we have now!! The teachers taught the whole year except for summer vacation, which is another issue!! 10 weeks is much too long for summer vacation and allows for too much bitul torah and other problems. The smarter thing would be as writer #13 suggested each teacher take a break on a staggered schedule and arrange for substitutes – no down time for the kids (who have too much already) and no upset for the parents schedules who have to work (and who doesn’t today?!)

  17. To all the babysitting service commentators.
    Yes, school is not a baby sitting srvice, but the school expects tuition to be paid in not insignificant amounts. This requires in most likely the majority of cases for 2 parents to work. And while I don’t know for a fact, but I think I can safely assume that most parents are not working companies that are closed yom-tov. Therefore, maybe the yeshivas should take that into account when scheduling vacation? 2 weeks of vacation a year barely covers yom-tov, so the parents cannot take off when the yeshivas decide it would be nice to close. I think it’s time that yeshiva’s start considering their parent body and try to harmonize vacation when parents generally get off, Oh wait, silly me, I keep forgetting that yeshivas generally don’t care about the parents.
    I also think that channukah vacation is a big chillul hashem, we are celebrating the victory over the yivonim who didn’t let us learn Torah, so what do we do, take vacation and learn less Torah.

  18. School is not a babysitting service? Of course it isn’t!
    It’s a place for people to work as rebbeim and teachers and get 10 weeks vacation in the summer, in addition to all yomim tovim off – often with isru chag thrown in (why? I don’t know…) and assorted other “days off” without caring about the parents or the EDUCATION of the children the are supposed to be teaching. If a parent has a complaint – well it must be a BAD PARENT WHO DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE KIDS…

  19. What do all of you do when your children are sick? You know about vacation from before school even starts that is enough time to make plans about how you will manage. I for one think that kids need a break and will be better students for it. the boys have almost no vacation and i can’t believe you would deny them the only days they have off. I love when my boys are off and I don’t have the pressure 6 days a week to get them out early in the morning. Most of you who are kvetching that you never have day off because you use all your vacation days for YomTov have Sundays and legal holidays off, your boys do not. Find it in your heart to thank Hashem that you have children to plan for and enjoy your kids company for the whole one and a half days they have off.


    S H A M E O N Y O U

  21. I wonder. Are all the people complaining the same ones who, as a child, looked forward to their chanukah vacation? It’s been 30 years since i graduated but i always had a chanukah vacation, generally, Friday and Sunday.

  22. It would be worthwile noting that the Shelah HaKodosh (Inyanei Tefillah, end) after commenting that “these holy days (of Chanukah) are extremely fit for hasmadas hatorah”, notes that “Rabboseinu HaKadmonim commonly gave vacation from Yeshiva during these days, for the purpose of inducing the talmidim to review their learning”. That puts the age of the minhag of Chanukah vacation at a minimum of least 400-500 years, not at all a recent phenomena.
    In addition, in my experience in Lkwd, the vacations have been limited to Fridays and Sundays, when parents are far more likely to be home.

  23. Come to Israel to live, school is 6 days and week and the majority of companies have days off on CHanukah the same as the kinder.

  24. I’m a Rebbi and I also agree that Chanuka is no time for a vacation! It’s the antitesis of the spirit of Yom Tov. The yevonim (lower case intended) strove L’hashkicham Torasecho and we go and give vacation! Ludicrous! A two day break may be needed for some down time or family time, why can’t that be done next week? As for the jealous people’s comments above, we’re at it 6 days a week! YOU don’t work on Sundays! And you’re too eager to get those tired, kvetchy kids onto the bus or into the school building for us to take care and YES learn with the kids after you kept them entertained on Motzei Shabbos or for a sports game. The money we earn is not nearly commensurate with our responsibilities but we’re not complaining – THAT’S FOR THOSE OF US WHO HAVE GOTTEN PAID ON TIME! Did you consider that while you were “home stuck with your kids” I was looking for Gemachs to ascertain that my family has heat and electricity this winter! Keyspan doesn’t want to hear that I haven’t been pain nor does Con Ed. Forget my mortgage company and credit cards! My credit is down the sewer because I haven’t been able to pay my bills because I haven’t been paid on time!
    YOU are right that Chanuka is no time for vacation, but do sit back and view the broader picture!
    By the way, I need that summer job to help me pay tuition too. I work very hard and I’m never allowed to lose my patience with your child – only you’re allowed to do that when you’re stressed out.

  25. “I’m a Rebbi and I also agree that Chanuka is no time for a vacation! It’s the antitesis of the spirit of Yom Tov.”

    Yitz/28 – Chol Hamoed is also no time for vacation from Yeshiva.

  26. You people are sick. If this is a problem don’t have kids.Your kids are not the angels you think they are. Rebbeim and teachers deserve a break. Most of you don’t pay full tuition so don’t complain.keep the kids in yeshiva 24 hours a day. This way they won’t be a problem for you at all. And we wonder why so many kids go off the derech.

  27. Children need a break from the six day a week schedule. If you dont feel it is necessary to spend time with your children, why bother having them in the first place.

  28. Both my husband and I work, and neither of us gets vacation days or sick days. That having been said, most schools have always given a few days of Chanukah vacation. Are your kids going to thank you for taking that away? As a previous poster wrote, get involved with your kids yeshivos, and try to get them to coordinate. All of us who work know there will be some days the kids are off. (I’d sooner take on all those days off before yom tov, and between camp and school!)

  29. everyone needs a break, but if the reason parents are having problems is because a second parent is working to pay for the tuition, it would only seem proper that schools take this into account and schedule vacations around legal holidays when or even just follow the public school schedule as a hakaras hatov to the parents for making the extra effort to pay more tuition.