Turn the December Dilemma into an Opportunity – Resources for Teachers

Dear Educators,

December is a time of celebration and family togetherness for many Americans – and not just those who celebrate Christmas as a sacred holiday or cultural event. Jews celebrate Hanukkah, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, many African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, and cultures across the world celebrate the Winter Solstice.

For educators, however, the convergence of so many holidays can create The December Dilemma: how to acknowledge and respect the wide variety of traditions students and their families hold dear without implying that some are more important than others.

Turn this dilemma into an opportunity for promoting inclusion and religious literacy. Teach your students about the many ways people celebrate in December – and throughout the year. Use our holiday planning template to create a yearlong schedule of holidays to explore in your classroom.

To learn more:
• Read our information-packed blog post, Teaching the Holidays: The December Dilemma
• Listen to Addressing the December Dilemma in Schools, a webinar created in partnership with Teaching Tolerance. (Complete the free registration to access the full recording)

• Download an elementary-level lesson on the Winter Solstice.

• Download an elementary-level lesson on Rituals and Traditions about Light: Hopefulness and Waiting.

• Check out Tanenbaum’s curricula for all grade levels.

Image credit: Painting by Manuel D. Baldemor

The Season of Inclusion – Navigate the December Dilemma!

Dear Friends,

What does your office look like during this time of year? Are there Christmas trees and menorahs in the lobby, or are decorations strictly snowflake-themed? Are departments planning Christmas parties or perhaps a holiday potluck?

Whatever is taking place at your office, the December Dilemma is in full swing. Hanukkah starts on December 6th and Christmas is coming up too (many will celebrate on December 24th and 25th, and some will celebrate January 6th [Armenian Orthodox] and 7th [Eastern Orthodox]).

Whether your company acknowledges specific holidays or takes a more general approach to the season, awareness about the holidays taking place during this busy time of year is key.
Use Tanenbaum’s tip sheets on Christmas, Hanukkah, and the December Dilemma to navigate decorations, time off and scheduling, and holiday greetings. Let’s celebrate the season of inclusion!
In friendship,
Mark Fowler,
Managing Director of Programs

Diversity and Inclusion Worldwide – A State Dept. Strategy Session

I experienced two things at my workshop in D.C. that confirmed the absolute urgency and human impact of combating religious prejudice, but more on that later.

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of State convened over 100 top diversity leaders for the first "Diversity, Inclusion and U.S. Foreign Policy" strategy session.  The day’s agenda focused on the impact of diverse professional environments and the way in which the diversity and inclusion agenda informs U.S. foreign policy.
Refreshingly, the session was much more than the same old conversations.  It was new.  Representatives of the State Dept., leaders in the field, and fellow presenters were saying that our global human rights agenda are directly linked to the U.S.’s success in foreign policy and global workplaces that thrive on diversity.  In other words, practicing what we preach will lead to a safer world. 
The range of issues discussed and diversity of thought was powerful, but I especially appreciated the opportunity to lead a workshop on Implementing Faith Based Diversity Initiatives.  The workshop’s conversation was lively and I was able to share a few of our better practices – including the importance of creating religious diversity policies in companies and governments.  Two things showed me that we moved the needle by getting key folks focused on this issue.  First, as a group, we discussed the core learnings that came out of our discussion.  Everyone agreed that addressing religion as an issue in the Diversity and Inclusion efforts of global companies is more than just a consideration – – it is key in the entire diversity conversation.  The second thing that proved the workshop was useful happened just after it ended.  One of the participants came up to me and said, “Joyce, I have to hug you.”  And she did.
Joyce S. Dubensky