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 above is from the archives.

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. You bring about valid points. But be real, if schools and. Yeshivos didn’t give off you would also complain. The whole concept of giving off, for those of us who are old enough to remember yesteryear, was because families wanted Friday and Sunday to get away to visit with extended family. Kids need the break too. They are not machines. My children’s school had a special program yesterday run by volunteer parents. The kids had a blast – they even look forward to it all year. That said, your concern is not really fully addressed. What is the parent to do when they have to be at work and the kids are at home?
    Dunno!!! I sympathize with you!

  2. Children have always had Chanukah vacation; you probably did as a child as well. If you or your husband have any vacation time from work that is not claimed by yommim tovim, now is the time to use it. Not only will the teachers and rebbeim enjoy this vacation, so will your kids.

  3. the answer to your question is tat they dont think it through i have no problem with vacation
    but why can they consider the parents and coordinate the boys schools should have off the same time as the girls schools
    chanukah vacation is great its family time etc
    but why do parents have to take off twice

    i know all the frum mechanchim will tell you that it leads to mixing of the genders if they have off the same time

    its time to stop this idiodic chumras and come to the realization that if a boy talks to his cousin girl etc the world does not come to an end

  4. Listen here. Schools and Yeshivos are not babysitting services. You send your kids to school so they can get educated. You send your children to yeshiva because you are unable to teach your children Torah yourself for whatever reason, but in reality, it is YOUR responsibility to teach them. The rebbeim and teachers need a break sometimes too just like you take vacations. It is not the school’s problem to be concerned with your babysitting issues, since school is not a babysitting service which happens to also educate your kids. Do you also blame the schools for who is suppposed to watch them on Sundays? Or Shabbos afternoons? What does one thing have to do with the other. They decided for whatever reason that it would be good to have a few days off. You have children who you are responsible for and may need to have babysitters for now. What does one thing have to do with the other? Your children are your responsibility. Lucky for you, school takes care of this “problem” of yours most of the year.
    Why don’t you take off from work (yes, use a vacation day or sick day, whatever) and actually spend some time with your kids. Take them someplace nice. Do a project with them. Call it a “staycation”. If you are from those few who are absoultely unable to take off for whatever reason, then there are options, such as other family members they can be left with, babysitters, going to a friend etc. Let’s not blame the schools and yeshivos for everything. They can better teach your children if they have a little break sometimes. A freilichen Chanuka.

  5. I oould not agree more with this article. Because of Hurrican Sandy, the school I send my kids to were shut for more than a week, yet they find it necessary to have 2 days off during Chanuka. Aside from the fact that they have off for 2 and half months during the summer, mid winter vacation and snow days along with all legal Holidays and Jewish holidays, there just about a half year of school. Yet they have the nerve to charge 10k per kid for tuition. Its a disgrace!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Are you different than any non-Jewish or non-religious person whose children attend public school — which also gives days off at various times during the year? What do you do during the summer? Do you live to work or work to live? Does your employer not allow personal days?

    With all due respect, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities.

  7. Oh no. Enough of this, just… enough. I read and hear this bellyaching EVERY SINGLE YEAR. You know what? This is part of life – DEAL WITH IT, like you would with any other minor adversity. I just had the same experience – my kids were off for Chanukah vacation, both of us work, so I volunteered to take off. Could I really afford the time off, especially now at year end? No, but I DEALT WITH IT. I now have backlog and have to work a little more until year end, but it’s OK, I’m dealing with it.
    I’m SICK AND TIRED of this bellyaching about Chanukah vacation and “having to work.” Be an adult and deal with the situation like an adult. What if you’re kid got sick all of a sudden and you had to take two days to deal with it? Would you be whining and complaining then???


  8. Vacations are fine but schools need to realize that times are different now and many families are faced with two working parents. At the bare minimum at least coordinate with other schools so that everyone is off at the same time. My girls were off mon, tues and wed while my boys have a half day thurs and are off fri. That means an ENTIRE WEEK of lost work for me. I’m supposed to have a week of accrued sick or vacation days?! Dont forget that I have to use these in case a kid gets sick (I cant use them myself or else I wont have them in case I need it for the kids so I go to work even if I feel lousy).
    Of course we understand that vacations are needed but the schools have to understand that we need to work in order to pay them. Let the principals get together and designate certain days as the off days to minimize the impact on our jobs. Respect and consideration has to be a two way street

  9. Well said. But just wait soon mid-winter vacation is comeing, four more problematic days.

    I hope the Gedolei Yisroel break it up.

    When I was younger the yeshivas didn’t give this mid-winter vacation, it’s a goyish idea.

  10. We used to have off Friday and Sunday toaccomodate short Friday and visits to grandparents etc for Shabbos Chanukah. Why extend it to 1, 2 or even 3 days more?
    I am a Rebbi and the break is not needed now for this length of time. Friday Sunday is enough for all sides. Too much is not good for kids either…. it takes too long to get back into it.

  11. Hey INGRATE, if having children is a “burden” to you, don’t have children in the first place! Who would would want you as a Father in Law?! You sound like a classic KVETCH!

  12. #5 –
    The writer was not shirking his/her responsibilities towards his/her children, as your response seems to indicate. Rather, the writer is addressing the reality nowadays that most people need to work in a standard (i.e., not chinuch, or even frum) work environment, where they are restricted by the rules of the place they work at (in order to keep their job!). Therefore, though most parents would PREFER to be able to stay home with their children when they have off, most are unable to do so, since they need to use their vacation/sick days for Yom Tov etc. when they are ABSOLUTELY unable to come into work. This creates logistic issues when the schedules conflict, issues that are compounded when each child’s school has a different vacation.
    The argument that rebbeim, teachers, and children all need time off is absolutely true and valid, the writer is not saying otherwise, but is maintaining that the schools should take the normative schedules of the parents into account when planning vacation days.

  13. I am so tired of this conversation. Obviously, the schools expect you to take off some quality time to spend with your precious children. I can’t believe how many people complain about spending time with their kids. How much work are you missing? two days? Don’t your kids deserve that?

  14. I personally would focus more on why
    do American children get 2.5 months of vacation in the summer?! In most cases it’s a vacation from learning Torah; Total bitul zman.
    As for the writer you got plenty of notice in September when you got the school calendar as to the vacation days. Everyone I knows arranges accordingly; be it an Aunt, Grandparent, or a close friend, there has to be someone you can rely on.

  15. To all those upset with the writer, try standing in the shoes of people working that have limited options. Although I’m a father, I would love to take off time to spend with my kids around Chanukah and at the end of January when they have off.

    BUT, some of us have jobs where we don’t have great options. I get a total of 16 days “Paid Time Off” each year, which includes any time I’m sick.

    In 2013, there are 12 weekdays I must take off for Yomim Tovim, leaving me with 4 out of 16. Then my company makes taking off 5 days around the non-Jewish holidays at the end of the year mandatory since the offices are effectively closed.

    That makes one day of Yom Tov I go unpaid, any time I’m sick is unpaid, and any time I want to have with my family during the summer or during a winter break is unpaid.

    Not so easy to say “just take off time, they’re your kids”.

    I guess I wouldn’t have this issue if I quit my job, went on tuition assistance, food stamps, etc.

  16. Yes, we all had Chanuka vacation when we were kids. But we had 1/2 day on Sunday. Maximum an additional Friday. But to get off 3 days is a bit too much.
    Yes, the teachers & Rebbeim could use a short vacation, but so could the parents who are working hard to pay their tuition.

  17. I totally agree with the article here. I recall that we did NOT get chanuka vacation – we just ended school earlier and most of the day was a more relaxed atmosphere.

    To #5, If schools are ONLY there for education, then isn’t it hypocritical to only think of yourself needing a vacation from your job(teaching), while the people paying for it (the parents) are working and cant just take off when they want.
    Anther point, Why dont schools know when the school year will end & the next one begin? If all they are concerned about is education – then they should know the curriculum and how many days needed to finish it, from the beginning of the year. The fact that each school calls the other to find out when they finish/have vacation etc just proves that it nothing to do with education at all.

  18. It appears to me that the OP is a two-worker family trying to do the right thing by paying tuition and all the other bills that come from having a frum family. They are being penalized by the Yeshiva system that (deliberately) gives vacations on multiple days of Chanukah without any regard for how parents such as the OP can manage. It amazes me that the entire Yeshiva system thinks that because a Rebbe, Morah or teacher chose this profession that they are somehow entitled to have so many days off at THEIR convenience. Most people I know work at least 5 days a week and at least 9 or 10 hours a day. No matter how you want to look at it there is no way that a Rebbe, Morah or teacher is spending 50 hours a week teaching and preparing. And for those that say that they are not being compensated at the same rate, please try getting a job at a higher rate of pay and see what the net take home pay works out to after tax vs. Rebbe (who gets parsonage for a large part of his salary) and has time to tutor (not always reported as income) and get a second job with benefits such as medical and retirement guarantees. The Rebbes and Morahs and teachers can be inconvenienced by having to have vacations for only 1 or 2 days on Chanukah instead of 5!

  19. First of all, this is from archives so its not related to sandy. This yest because rod sandy and all the days that were missed, many schools did decrease the Chanukah vacation days to help working parents. But vacation days from school are a reality in all schools from yeshiva to public schools
    There is winter vacation, Chanukah vacation, pre-pesach days etc. and this is understood and a given. You must have known before you had kids that there would be days off. So it is surprising that this is being addressed as an issue when it is just a normal part of the regular school calendar. The idea for girls and boys schools to give off the same days seems to be a simple and logical way to help parents and allow for family vacations so it surprises me that some schools do not coordinate.

  20. If at the end of every summer you just plan ahead and expect that you’ll be taking those days off, then it won’t bother you so much. It’ll be built into your calendar, you’ll have a great time with your kids, and maybe just maybe one day someone will abolish the vacation. But until then, it’s out of your control anyway, so why fret? Be very thankful everyday that you didn’t live in the hurricane zone. Those people aren’t worrying about vacation right now…it’s boilers and dry walls.

  21. I work, as does my husband. Neither of us gets paid vacation or personal days, and I don’t get paid sick days either.

    That having been said, my first job is to be a mother. And if being a mother means I have to take unpaid time off, then that’s the reality. Chanukah vacation isn’t a surprise to any of us, and I fail to see why there are complaints every year.

  22. Boooooooooorrrrrrrrrrring this is the 19 millionth dumb letter about this topic. Every gets vacation even kids. It’s reality, it’s not changimg so stop whining and deal with it.

  23. A better point to ponder is ….. Chanukah should be a time of limud Hatorah and NOT spent on vacation days. This is exactly what the yevanim wanted to do take us away from Torah!!!!! So cancel schOol!!!!!!?????


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