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



Why am I writing this article now, in the middle of the day, to be published on 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 three sons have off today. My daughters had 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?

S. M.


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. More than that, isn’t Chanukah a time of the nitzachon of Torah? I can understand cancelling English on Hanukah, but it should be a time with more learning.

  2. This letter is right on the mark I agree 100%
    No one ever cares aboiut those of us who can’t just be home to watch our children on a random day

  3. Pretty selfish. Who cares about the kids at school. Who cares about the rabbeim and teachers. You have to work so everyone else drop dead. If it was the learning that concerned you then fine. Public schools give the whole week off and some goyim work too. Time to grow up and deal with difficult situations.

    I’m also stick at home today.

  4. Where you ever in school? If you were you would know how much a little much needed vacation does. Kids have something to look foward during the long winter and get to have fun. Isnt that what kids are suppose to do?
    For the parents this should be your greatest joy seeing your children happy even if it means a day off from work. Besides this year its the goyisha holliday so most people have off from work anyways.

  5. I understand your dilemma, and the same dilemma that most frum families have who are fortunate enough to have children. However, I do wonder if, when you were growing up, if you had vacations?…winter, Chanukah, summer, President’s Day,Pesach etc, Didn’t you look forward to the days where you could sleep in, eat a normal breakfast, play with friends, (or fight with siblings) or just sit around all day and read a book.

    Then again, what did your parents do when you were off from school or sick at home? They may not have worked out side of the home, but your mother or father’s entire day was disrupted because you were home… isn’t that part of the responsibility in having children?

    At this point, there is no magic formula to alleviate this problem. In an ideal world, parents could continue having as many children as they can….send them to daycare all day, every day…including some nights, and see them at their convenience. However in the real world, teachers get vacation, schools give time off, and parents are required to accept the responsibility of watching the generation of children, who G-d Willing….will be taking care of you when you are old and unable to care for yourself. I hope and pray your children will not look at you when you are old as a burden and inconvience, and looking to send you away.

  6. The fact that you are writing this today shows that you also haven’t thought it through. You got the school calendar last April – if you would have said something then maybe a solution could have been found!!!

  7. I think that SM, bmichilas kvodaich, and many others have unfortunately forgotten (perhaps out of societal changes and economic pressures), the yeshivas’ job is to educate and be mechanech it is not to babysit. Raising children is a mother’s primary job, and every working mother has to realize when assuming outside responsibilities that there will be vacation as well as unfortunately sick days during which she’ll have to either take off, work from home, or arrange alternatives for her children, and have that in mind when assuming other responsibilities.
    That being said, it would be much easier on everyone, if we had more achdus in klal Yisroel and vacations as well as such things as visiting days in sleep away camps were coordinated, to aleviate the strains of our economic times and societal demands. Considering – Mi K’amcha Yisroel??Why can’t this happen???????????

  8. Sorry to bust your bubble, but part of having kids, is working out their schedules. Yeshivas are not 24/7 babysitters. You know from the day you had them that there will be days off. You’re right in seeing the fact that not every profession has the same vacation schedule. But why should that mean “no” days off ever? Not only do the rebbeim and teachers need time to recharge, but the kids do too. Enjoy them! Even at the cost of an extra personal day.

  9. I definiteley hear where the writer of this article is coming from and i dont mean to belittle the problem,but we do have to keep in mind that the teacher the rabbeim and the children do need a break every once in a while. Another thought you might want to keep in mind is that a school is not a babysitting service.The actual function of a school is to teach our children .It may be convienient that we dont have to watch our kids when they are in school but that does not mean that the school is rsponsible to watch our childre 24-7

  10. Dear S and M – did you complain several years ago when you had vacation on Chanukah? Did you volunteer to take care of your siblings or did you go and have fun? I thought so.

  11. Kind of hard to answer as there are arguments on each side.
    The way I see it,the schools cannot be responsible for every aspect of our lives.They cannot take responsibility for everything…only for what happens IN THE SCHOOL…Teachers and Rebbes do need a break sometimes to spend time with THEIR FAMILIES…they work extremely hard all year. How do I know? because my son is a Rebbe and never gets a chance to see a child that is not well and is in a home…and since he works Sunday thru Friday, he never gets to see him. Fair? I don’t think so. He hardly has time to spend with his kids all week because his job is not done when he comes home. He has to prepare for the next day….and b’h, not complaining…but it is real hard, tiring and time consuming.
    I don’t think it is the yeshiva or schools job to take care of or be responsible for who babysits or not. The fact that a mother has to go out to work these days is REGRETTABLE, TO SAY THE LEAST…and I am sure your kids need your time….how you choose to arrange it, cannot be put on the shoulders of the schools or yeshiva. Sorry…sometimes life doesn’t offer all the solutions. Some parents are happy, some are not….that’s life, get used to it. We can’t please everyone….all the time.

  12. whatever they do won’t work out for everyone & I’m sorry you’re one of those, but like you said, the kids & teachers need it. Most people are able to make arrangements for the kids such as going to a friend etc.

  13. Hey buddy, I hear you! I work for a Heimisha company so I have to work even harder. All the Goyim have off because of Xmas. I worked Friday, Sunday, & BE”H today – full day! No leaving early to be back home with my Mishpacha!

    As far as the kids; they DO need a break! Enough with all the test’s, finals, studying, etc… A few day’s are ok & healthy for them

  14. unfortunately many people today don’t realize that a mother is supposed to be just that – a mother. i’m not saying people shouldn’t work but your family comes first. It is your responsiblity to take care of your children. How many days of the year do you actually spend time with them. Their always in school or camp, or camp after school, camp before school, chanuka camps etc.Its time for us to raise our own children

  15. Most people (and I am not one of them, so I empathize up to a point) have a certain number of vacation days and personal days they can take off, so they should be utilized for days like today, rather than for actual vacations. Even if you don’t have vacation days, schools have given off a couple of days for Chanuka vacation for as long as I can remember, and the kids all look forward to it. Do you really want to take this away from them? Finally, as others have pointed out, yeshivos are not babysitters, and your children are your responsibility. I agree this makes it very hard for working mothers, but taking away vacations is not the answer.

  16. As a working mother, I don’t understand the big deal. I also have to work, but made it my business to cancel clients today, so we could have fun at home playing with the toys the kids got on Chanuka. No one is complaining here, even I.

  17. Just a simple question…what do you do on those days when your children, one or more are home sick? Where do you leave them? Or do you send them to school with a fever because your boss needs you.
    Guess what…I’ve heard many do…they MUST GO TO WORK….or they will be fired. Well, you know what….your kids can’t fire you as their mother, but if you do that, maybe they ought to, because your first and foremost responsibility is to them, a dollar off or not. We have to work around the children, not the children work around mommys job.

  18. did you ever for a second think about the kids and rabbiem that learn all day and need a break from school and if you were a teacher you would look differently at this and for sure when you were a kid


  20. There are good arguments both ways!
    I teach and friends of mine who work other types of jobs chide me every time we get a day off: today, Monday, no diff. Never mind that I work on Sundays when they don’t! That aside, none of them would dare take a class of 30 cuz, they say, “They can’t do it!” Teaching 30 different children from 30 different homes, some who come in to yeshiva while sick and should be home but do come in nonetheless cuz mom & dad work outside the home as do so many of us have to do puts us all in a compromising situation! ALL need a break here and there! Faargin us all! Yes it’s tough to have it forced upon you, but then again, aren’t lots of things! Be a sport and more importantly, be positive for your sake, for your spouse’s sake and for your children’s sake!

    And yes, schools ought coordinate vacation days!

  21. This has got to be the most selfish rant I’ve ever read here. Why do you think Hashem gave you kids in the first place, so you could farm them out? If you’re so put out by “watching” your own kids, why don’t you live on a kibbutz?

    Only a father would say he has to babysit his own kids. It sounds like this father is still a child himself.

  22. I agree with the author wholeheartedly. Yes teachers are human, but why should they be given more vacation than any other worker. Additionally, where my kids go to school, they have off Thursday Friday Sunday, and will give off another week in late January for Mid-Winter vacation – is this also justified as a needed and well-deserved break? Additionally, my children need about one day off to relax, after that they just get bored and crazy, does this sound familiar to anybody?

    And to all those who state that Yeshivos are not babysitters: Did you perhaps forget the Chazal of ” ein mivatlin tinokos shel bais rabban afilu l’binyan bais hamikdosh”?

  23. I feel very sorry for the kids who realize their parent is very annoyed to be home with them on school breaks. It’s a bad message to send to the kids; don’t think it won’t backfire.

  24. Schools/Yeshivas are not babysitting services, true.

    Parents, though, are not ATMs either.

    In other words, the respect has to go both ways. In these school vs. parents situations, it is the school with all the power and the parents that have to sink or swim. Being the one with the power, it is incumbent upon the school to put itself in the shoes of the parents – just like the schools expect the parents to see their point of view when the roles are reversed (e.g. when asking for extra money at dinners).

    If politicians took on the attitude that the schools have towards parents, we’d be living in a very different world. Imagine if they said, “What are you going to do if we don’t listen – move out? Haha.”

    The situation in Lakewood with the busdrivers this past Thanksgiving is symptomatic of this as well. The attitude seems to be “What are you going to do about it?”. This breeds ill will all around. If anyone is wondering how parents can bring themselves to speak negatively about the wonderful yeshivos that teach Torah and instill wonderful values into our children, look no further.

    Accommodating the vacation schedule of bus drivers, and yes (gasp) even the parents of the children who populate your schools is something that has to start happening. The teachers are all smart people who have good middos – I know they can figure out what to do if they would be nosei b’ol im chaveirom.