Valentine’s Day in a Jewish Setting
As the Director of Early Childhood Education for a Reform Synagogue, I struggle every year with the question I receive from families asking if we celebrate Valentine’s Day at school. As I sit down to write my monthly article for Unite, I start searching on the internet. This year, I polled the ECE-RJ Directors on our Forums, and I spoke to a few Reform Jewish Professionals.
The overwhelming information that I learned is that, while parents and Jewish educational professionals may not be thrilled about the notion of celebrating St. Valentine’s Day in a Jewish setting, there may not be the same concerns about it as there used to be.
My personal opinion is that in 2020, Valentine’s Day does not have the same religious or pagan connections that it did at its origin. I also feel because it is now more of an “American Holiday/Secular Tradition,” we can always connect Jewish values and focus on love/acceptance.
There is always a way to find the Jewish value in everything. Valentine’s Day is a fun way to show someone that you are thinking of them; it could be a wonderful way to enhance the home-school connecting by infusing Jewish values in something that our children may celebrate with their families.
And, since we are talking about holidays…, did you know that Tu’ B'av was a holiday devoted to singles and love? In earlier times, the young single women would go out to the fields dressed in white. Each woman would wear a borrowed dress. Borrowing a dress would ensure that those who were not able to afford a dress of their own would not be shamed. The men would come down to the fields and pick a bride. Tu B'av is known to be a great day for weddings, similar to the tradition of Valentine's Day.
So next year, along with doing the traditional secular giving of Valentine's day cards on February 14, also do something about love on Tu' B'av.