Dear Jane: Volume Two

Dear Jane,

I’m Jewish, but I really love Christmas. Would it be wrong of me to ask my parents if we could get a Christmas tree this year?

I’m In It For The Ornaments

Dear I’m In It For The Ornaments,

While we are all tempted to join in on the Christmas spirit despite our own religious denomination, asking for a Christmas tree is taking it a little too far.

Sure, hanging ornaments and candy canes seems like tasting the forbidden fruit to Jewish kids, but this is not a path you want to go down.

Imagine the heartbreak your parents will feel at hearing you want to go back on your Jewish heritage. Imagine the remedial counseling sessions with the Rabbi!

A much more Jew-friendly alternative might be amping up the Chanukah festivities or hosting a holiday party (maybe at the house of one of your friends who owns a Christmas tree).

You and your friends can participate in non-denominational activities such as sipping hot chocolate, decorating gingerbread houses, or sledding (if there is snow around.)

Additionally, you might suggest that you and your guests mix holiday traditions. That way you can decorate a Christmas tree and later beat your friends at the game of dreidle (chances are they won’t know the rules so you can make them up!)

I hope these options satisfy your need to join in on the holiday spirit.


Dear Jane,

My parents are “strongly encouraging” me to do IB, but I really don’t want to. What should I do?

I Be Worried

Dear I Be Worried,

In many cases the choice to partake in the IB program can certainly be a stressful one, especially if you and your parents have reached an impasse.

The thing to consider now is why it’s so important to them that you do IB, and why it it’s so important to you to not. If your reasons are superficial – for instance, if your decision is based on the fact that you’ve heard people criticize IB, then maybe you need to revisit the issue.

However, if you dislike IB for another reason, such as the restrictions the program places on you, or if you have a preference for AP level courses, then you need to sit down and have a discussion with your parents.

First, outline your reasons for not wanting to participate in IB. Make sure to stress to your parents that this choice does not mean you won’t apply yourself; it simply means that you do not feel that IB is a correct fit for you.

Next, collect some evidence. Bring up cases of Harriton students who have been very academically successful, yet did not participate in the IB program (excellent examples might be Barr Yaron, or Eli Darrow, our past valedictorians).

If these two tactics do not help you win this argument, then talk to Mr. O’Brien, the IB coordinator, about this issue. Although he may sing the praises of the IB program, he will in all likelihood be willing to talk to your parents about the drawbacks of compelling you to partake in IB against your will if you are intent upon your decision. Good luck!