"The benefits to Lucy growing up with two religions in the family ... it's not that she gets two holidays of presents. It's not about presents at all," said Cady Schulman, adding that while her daughter is being raised in her Seventh-day Adventist denomination, they also observe and celebrate the Jewish heritage of her husband. "She's lucky because she gets to be exposed to so much more than other kids. She gets to see Santa Claus and have a Christmas tree.
"She gets to hunt for Easter eggs. But, she also gets to light the menorah and learn about the freedom from oppression that the ancient Jews got. She gets to take part in the Passover Seder and hunt for the afikomen and learn that history. I've had to learn about all the various holidays since being married to Joe, and I still have to ask his mom or search online for things, but she gets to grow up learning about all of this."
Echoing his wife's sentiments, Joe Schulman believes it is important for Lucy to learn about and for him and Cady to honor and be tolerant of both their religions. Along with celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day, his daughter also will be observing Hanukkah, an eight-day recognition of the Maccabees reclaiming and rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem. During Hanukkah, Jews traditionally light a menorah, which calls back to the oil in the Temple miraculously providing light for eight days -- seven more than expected.
"They'll go to synagogue with me and I'll go to church with them," he said. "It's very inclusive. ... [Being an interfaith couple] -- it's nice because Lucy gets to learn about more than one religion [and] she gets to see what other parts of her family do. So I think that's nice. As far as the challenges -- just fitting everything in. It gets to be a busy schedule around this time of year.
"This year, Hanukkah comes so late in the year. The Jewish calendar goes by the moon phases so holidays are not the same day every year, much like Easter moves," he said, referring to the holiday starting on the 25th day of Kislev in the Jewish calendar, which is mainly founded on the lunar cycle. "Like last year, some years Hanukkah comes really early in the year in December. Other years, like this year, Hanukkah doesn't start until right around Christmastime. So while [sometimes] we'd have a week or two in between, this year, [on] Friday we're coming to my parents to celebrate Hanukkah and then we'll go to her parents for Christmas on Saturday. So [it is] really busy this year. It's a lot of fun and everybody enjoys it. Especially with the grandkids now, everybody has a lot of fun but it's hectic."
With sundown on Tuesday, Dec. 20, marking the first day of Hanukkah and Christmas quickly approaching, the Schulmans are busy observing both religious holidays and planning family get-togethers. Along with catching up with their immediate family, it also is a time for both sets of in-laws to reconnect.
"We will go to my parents for Hanukkah for one night," Joe Schulman said. "We'll meet with my parents and my sister but we also invite Cady's family. They come down to visit for Hanukkah. Then what we do for Christmas is we'll go up and see her family Christmas Eve. We'll do a gift exchange that night and then Christmas Day her parents do a big dinner and my parents will actually come up for that as well. So the parents come to both holidays.
"We get sort of a nice mix at both places. It's nice to get the families together for the holidays like that, to visit with everybody. ... It's fun just to teach [Lucy] the traditions. Everything is new to her, so that's what's been fun, everything from the Christmas Advent calendar to learning about presents and she's getting used to Santa."