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

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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 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?

{Shmuel Newscenter}


  1. I realize that you’re doing this now because you’re fed up. But do you think anything’s going to change from one article now? You’ll have to hammer this in monthly.

  2. Your last sentence/question actually explains the whole situation. No, NOBODY thinks these things through. The situation has been the same for years. The hanhala and teachers either do not understand or totally disregard the matzav of the working parents whom they (correctly) expect to be pulling their weight by paying tuition and working with their children in the evenings. They set up vacations to allow them to relax, build Sukkahs, and prepare for Pesach, as they see fit, with complete indifference to parents who also have lives and needs.

  3. this is one of the oldest debates around.
    some will say the yeshiva is not here to babysit.
    other will say everyone even kids need a vacation.
    what bothers me is, the yeshiva won’t allow me to take my kids out for 2 or 3 days out of the year. but if they need a vacation, why can’t i??
    maybe chanuka is not the right time for me as I’m an accountant?
    so there is a double standard there, no question about it.

  4. I am in the same situation, and agree wholeheartedly. At the same time I wonder about the hashkafa of giving vacation over Chanuka. The victory of Chanuka was a victory of Torah and Torah learning. How do we celebrate today? By giving our kids a “break” from Torah Learning! Is this the hashkafa we want to put across?

  5. While a legitimate point has been brought up, I think that the ends justify the means. Both the students and the staff need a well deserved break. As the days get colder, it can get very gloomy. This 3 day vacation is just what people need to spring them over till Purim.

  6. I think the schools should offer Chanukah Programs for its’ students free of charge or for a small fee so that eveyone can enjoy the vacation and not worry about taking off from work or finding a babysitter.

  7. I seem to recall these type of letters every year to one of the websites or to the Yated. While I understand your plight, it is not that you didn’t know. Every school (at least all the mosdos that my children attend) have it listed on their school calendars. If your school had one, then you already knew months ago that this vacation was coming. Although i don’t have a solution for you or others in this situation, please don’t rant now when you had a chance to do something about it for 2 months.

  8. The Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs can not coordinate vacation, as that would cause an increased intermingling of children of the opposite gender such as cousins. We must protect these precious neshamos!

  9. Great point from above. Its suppose to teach the kids that chanukah is a time to spend with family so schedule your time appropriately. Why then does no body rant about taking time off on Purim!? When this is what most people try and do. What happened to family? I can understand this problem if you have no family or friends that are flexible to take time off but the rest have no excuse. I know people who live in Israel who are single mothers and who’s family live km away but the rest have no excuses.

  10. Old problem… Although I can’t understand what parent wouldn’t want to take off from work to spend time with their kids.

  11. is getting coordinated. For all of the merits of 2 days off for the kids (?) and teachers, why can’t every school do the same 2 days? Like Friday and Monday? The staggering that the author mentions is really hard…

  12. I just had a wonderful chanakah vacation with kids!! And I am forever grateful that this is the break and that they go to school normally the last week in December as if nothing is going on (the best we can anyway). I will enjoy the week of vacation with them in January as well. Kids spend a lot of time in school. These days with the family are opportunities for us to be closer, have fun together … even get bored together. They will be great family memories some day. Isn’t that worth something?

  13. Let us take a step back. Maybe school does not include these days to begin with?

    So when you plan your work schedule, it is based on the general school year. But you are responsibe for arranging things for those days that school is not.

  14. No matter what any school does, someone is going to be inconvenienced. My boys were off on Thursday, my girls on Monday. Cest La Vie.

  15. Kids deserve a vacation once in a while and chanukah is agood time to give a vacation since they would be getting out early anyways to light chanukah candels

  16. It has always been like thi. Everybody knows this goes back decades where schools had chanukah and midwinter vacations. Why does everybody complain? When you were a kid you wouldn’t have liked it if somebody would have posted a question like that! You would havebeen upset because you look forward for these days. It is really what you count down for and helps the school year be a bit more pleasant and enjoyable. Also remember it is a time to spend a wonderful day with your children so please don’t complain about this again!

  17. me as a student we need vacation because chanukah is the end of first term where the teachers cram in all their tests so they can have marks for the students. we as students need to study every night for another test plus alll the hw bec. each teacher thinks they are the only one. I come from a family where both parents work, and sometimes it is possible for the parent to work from home and the kids learn to entertain themselves!!
    It worked out that my siblings and I had vacation the same days, no we didn’t go anywhere we stayed home and found enjoyment inside the house by doing things together. on a side note our mother played with us the day before she had to go to work and shabbos is family time where we spend the day playing games together. Sunday people have to get ready for the next day at school or work -teachers say you have sunday to do your hw- but a vacation is where you don’y have to worry about school for the next day
    hope this helps
    moshiach now!
    and this should be your worst problem in life!

  18. Chanuka vacation is as old as I am – almost 1/2 a century. This has become a “problem” more recently since our community’s moms began working outside the home causing the dilemma mentioned in the article. While I don’t think the schools should change the “minhag” of giving vacation on Chanuka, it would be helpful for all of us if the schools would coordinate. (This is particularly so when there are 2 Shabbosos Chanuka and not all the schools give vacation on the same one.) Does anyone have a good idea on HOW to coordinate so many schools?

  19. To 6 (the commiss): Your school doesn’t have winter break, which isn’t a weekend but a full week?
    I’m a mostly SAHM, and the work I do is on school schedule, so this isn’t a problem for me, so I will try to be sympathetic. I will say though, that it’s not as if one just becomes aware of the problem the day before Chanukah break; one knows about this at the beginning of the year when the school sends out its calendar.

  20. Its not enough that they have two and a half months off in the summer, all yomim tovim, chol Hamoed, taaneisim, snow days, mid winter vacation, staff days , legal holidays, they need Chanukah vacation. Can someone please tell me, which other employers allow such amount of paid vacation time?

  21. Its been on the school calendar since you got it in August, giving you enough time to get a babysitter, or like i did, give notice that you need to take off from work. ( my girls were off thurs, fri and mon and my boys – sun, mon and tues)But it would be easier if at least the schools could coodinate the same schedules!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. To Schmoiger: not everyone lives in town. It’s nice to be able to spend a Shabbos with family. And that goes for bachurim who get to travel home and spend some “yom tov” time with family.

    Though there is the compelling argument that chinuch shouldn’t be given up on, of all days, Chanukah.

  23. As a teacher one thing I can tell you is that legally the school year for private schools needs to consist of just 170 days of school per school year. With about 5 snow days built in, the school is only opened for 175 days the entire year. Therefore if you do the math you will see that a certain amount of vacation time must be built in to the year as well otherwise with only 175 days of school we would end in April. schools figure that the parents and teachers would prefer those days being around yomim tovim (aside from mid winter break) rather than choosing random days for vacation. Your kids are going to have days off based on this anyway so it might as well be at a time that makes sense. Count your blessings though- when we lived in eretz yisrael the girls had off from school the entire chanukah!

  24. This article is absurd.As a Rebbe with children of my own, I take the opputunity of bonding with my children with a well desrved break.The school is not a babysitting service and if you want to complain be happy Lakewood isn’t like new york yeshivos that give 10 weeks off every summer!!!

  25. To “Teacher” –
    Yes, in EY the girls have off for all of Chanukah because that is their mid-winter break. They don’t get another one – this is it until Purim.

  26. If Chanuka vacation is supposed to allow families to spend time together, which is an admirable goal, why are vacations staggered? How can families spend time together if the sons and daughters don’t have vacation at the same time?

    (This would also make it easier for parents to schedule time off from work).


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