the baby jesus, in a bear

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Our caretaker extraordinaire is wonderful with the sprouts. She’s loving, patient, thoughtful. Attentive. We trust her. We love her. Adore her. She’s part of our family. For the kids’ birthday, among many precious gifts, she gave them each a singing teddy bear. On one of them she even sewed on a soccer ball patch, since Lucas loves balls as much as the next guy. Each of the bears holds a blinking gold star, and when pressed, the bear sings:

Jesus loves me this I know,
For the bible tells me so

Yes, Jesus loves me,
The bible tells me so.

Over. And over. And over. Again. What’s a mama Jew to do?




  1. The batteries on those would die a fast and horrible death in my house. So horrible that whatever mechanism held them would be obliterated in the flaming ball of death that took the batteries.

    Which would work until the caretaker staged her own Easter Sunday and brought forth new bears. At which point you might have to smite the furry little bastards.

  2. Ha-Ha. Ahh, this reminds me of how my mama Unitarian decided that we needed to go to my grandparents' fancypants Episcopalian church because of all of the Jesus talk. Let the kids play with the bear (and cover your ears after the 3000 time); they may dabble, but I am sure they'll figure it out on their own. If you don't let them experience anything, it becomes forbidden fruit.
    It all seems pretty harmless, no?

  3. I wonder how well integrated she is in your family if she would have bought two gifts like this. That said, I would just stow them away. Unless you plan on raising your kids with both religions since you have already mentioned other Christian influences in your home, Xmas, etc.

  4. Stephanie – so funny! My youngest two attend a traditional preschool with very minor religious undertones – do unto others, etc. We're Jewish, but opted out of the Jewish preschool the older two went to for various reasons. Anyhow, my husband's Jewish parents (who quite handsomely contribute funds toward the kids' education) were over and Asher (2) started belting out, "Jesus loves me, this I know… for the Bible tells me so…" Of course, being the quick-witted mother I am, I distracted him with chocolate (ironically some Hanukkah gelt!).

  5. To avoid my mama Unitarian's heritage, I need to add that I meant to say "stop going" to my grandparents' church.

  6. If it weren't TX, I might chalk it up to just an honest oversight, but I'm extremely sensitive to people pushing their religion on me, since I have alot of relatives in the Bible belt. She might be a great caretaker and a wonderfully nice person, but I think that the gift was incredibly insensitive to your desires, as a mother, regarding how you want your kids to be exposed to different religions. But that's just me…

  7. If I remember right, Jews believe Jesus existed, just that he's not the Messiah. So, great, Jesus loves them, so do a whole lot of other people. He's just another person who loves them. Let them know that then don't replace the batteries. Or remove them.
    I hope I don't offend with ignorance.

  8. Hmm, kind of strange. Does she know you are Jewish…. or does she just think you observe both religions? Personally, I would disable the recordings and let her know you love the thought but do not observe that religon. How does she now know that basic info about your family?

  9. While removing the batteries does seem easiest, your nanny will simply replace them, and next thing you know, it's the war of the batteries. I suspect that while she is fully aware that you are a Jewish family, she does not know that Jesus is not a part of our religion. Surprisingly (or not, depending on your pov), many Americans don't know this. And, yeah, possibly the Xmas tree confused her.

    So tell her how much Lucas loves his bear and how much you appreciate her warmth toward your kids, but you would prefer to remove the batteries because a song about Jesus just isn't appropriate in your son's toy.

  10. Haha, I love it. I don't think it will damage them for life or turn them into Catholics or anything, so I wouldn't worry about it. If it really bugs you, just remove the batteries.

  11. Doesn't Mama Jew have a Christmas tree at home each year? Maybe she doesn't know you are Jewish? The aspects of Christianity that you have in your life have always sounded to me like they are rooted in nostalgia/memories with your mom.

    So the bears will be a happy reminder of their Christian nanny whom they love. Just be glad they aren't singing "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam"

  12. Is it the Jesus thing that bugs you, or the repeated song(s)? It just seems a little strange to me that you'd be hung up on bears that sing Jesus songs in light of the ways you've described majorly parting from Jewish tradition. That's in no way a judgment call, just an observation.

    Irregardless (don't you hate that "word"? ha), toys that play the same freaking song repeatedly are annoying no matter what. I hope the batteries die soon, for your sake. And I can't get those blueberry crumb bars out of my head.

  13. Surely it is more important that children know they are loved and hear about love in their lives irrespective of WHO it is that is loving them.

    Religion can be so destructive that surely it is more important to teach children tolerance of a wide variety of religions. Surely it is possible for Jesus to love them as well as many other gods / religious icons.

    Let's teach children acceptance and tolerance rather than a single minded view of the world and then perhaps we wouldn't be in such a muddle?

  14. BTW – that wasn't a comment on your post SK, more the comments that people have been posting. I think your post demonstrates that you are fairly relaxed about the big R subject.

    It just gets my back up that people can be so single minded about it.

  15. No comments on the bear. I think you already have a good handle on the big R. As well as a sense of humor. (But those repetitious phrases and noises from battery-powered toys drive me nuts! LOL. My BIL once threatened me that if I ever got his kids one, he'd have to kill me.)

    I just wanted to say I love the links at the bottom to posts from a year ago, three years ago, etc. Some have led to entries I'd not remembered reading, and enjoyed, and some I read, and go, "oh, yeah, I remember this one, love it!"

    Congrats on getting the script done!

  16. Steph- I do not think this is a big deal. Just wait for the batteries to die and then don't replace them. To make this an issue with her would hurt her feelings and cause more grief than it is worth.

  17. i'd be annoyed if anyone gave my kid noise-making toys w/o talking with me first! take out the batteries to preserve your sanity-censorship doesn't even need to come into this!

    wouldn't christian folks find it a little wierd if someone gave their kid, for their birthday, a hannukah toy? the old testament is part of the christian religion too, but i think that would still be kinda odd.

  18. I think that's pretty funny. Who cares what the bear sings, as long as the kiddos like it. It's not like they know who Jesus is anyway.

  19. I really don't appreciate it when someone assumes I belong to any religion. It's like my grandmother who is uber conservative and she sends me emails all the time that are very religious and very conservative and she just assumes that I agree with her because we are kin. I don't go off on her when she sends them to me, mostly I ignore them, but it's just that assumption that gets me. The bears would be the same type of thing with me. . .they'd irritate me, but I probably wouldn't do anything about it because for me to react to the bears would be making a huge melodramatic issue out of something that just isn't that big. But I'd still be uber annoyed and would probably drop hints to prevent it from happening again.

  20. And when was the last time you went to temple? Come on, Steph – you're an educated woman. It doesn't take a philosophical genius to figure this one out. 1. Explain to your nanny that despite the incredibly mixed messages you send, and while you do very much appreciate the gifts, you are Jewish, and 2. Don't take the toys away from the kids or rip out the sound, rather use it as part of an ongoing exposure to different religions and cultures.

  21. Without getting into it. Which let me tell you, I'm happy to if necessary. Jesus was a Jew so just being Jewish isn't a reason to reject him. Of course it goes much deeper. Doesn't it always?

    So you don't want your kids worshipping Jesus. What do you want them to worship? Family? Careers? Materialism? Friends? Success? We all worship something and it eather gives us life or puts us in bondage.

    "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10….hum… what could Jesus have meant?? We all want life to the full. I think it is important for us each to know why we would reject a person who claims they offer that. Yes. I know it is PERSONAL thing. Religion sucks. I'm not Religious. I don't need to be. Religion is what Jesus hated.

    You can't put God in a box. :) He colors outside the lines.

  22. Take out the voice box. Just be sure that you throw them away carefully. Teletubbie LaLa speaking from the trash bin traumatized my two year old daughter, and I got busted taking the Elmo saxophone to goodwill when it shifted in the trunk.

  23. That's better than the little angel toy that my daughter got when she was that age – it said the "lord's prayer" in a little girls voice. It's the creepiest thing I've ever seen. She grew tired of it (as she does with all toys) in about 3 days and that was it. I think it's on the top of her closet now.
    Now recently my husband taught her the song "he's got the whole world in his hands" even though we're not even remotely religious. This one really bugs me b/c she wants to sing it all the time and it just makes me uncomfortable. Why would he do that??

  24. If I were a Christian whose home/life bore no evidence of anything Jewish, I'd think it odd if a person gave my children a Hanukkah toy.

    If I were a Christian who also observed some Jewish traditions in my home (star of David, light the menorah, eight days of gifts, etc), I wouldn't find it strange or bothersome that my kids receive Hanukkah gifts.

    Again, I'm not calling it appropriate or inappropriate.. I guess I just don't understand why it would feel less-than-okay. Other than the incessant mechanical singing. Which would be a BIG problem for me. Because it's annoying. No matter what religion.

  25. Oy vey.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that if she's Latin American, it may not have even occurred to her that it's odd, even if she knows you're both Jewish. I've had a lot of people from L.A., Catholic backgrounds ask me if we celebrate Christmas, or "You still believe in Jesus right?". And no, they weren't idiots.
    I wouldn't worry about it confusing the kids, they probably just see it as a fun song.

  26. Does the nanny read your blog? If she does, you've already taken care of the issue.

  27. My favorite Christmas song, which tastes and feels that the CHRISTMAS Holidays are upon us-is a HANNUKAH song. Mrs. Yared, my grade school teacher, taught us, from beginning to end, this Christmas song. Every year for the last 30 years years this is the song that sounds like WHITE CHRISTMAS, and SILENT NIGHT, in my Greek head.

    My favorite grade school teacher taught 30 Greek kids, THE HANNUKAH song which connected us to each other, to her, and to another religion.

    I live like a Greek, love like a Greek and will die a Greek, but I won't ever forget Christmas and the HANNUKAH song.

  28. I am still laughing at "Mama Jew". A Jewish father, hebrew school and christmas does not a jew make, my dear.

  29. I am sure you are an ENFP, your % is shifting, and next year might be different. Where are you taking the MB test?

    P.S. We had both Judaism and Christianity in our home, & worked it all out ourselves, with little deliberate instruction that I recall.

  30. This might seem strange, and I'm not saying this is the case with your nanny, but I actually know people who are so unaware of religion (they were not brought up religously and certainly have no faith) who wouldn't even know that Jews don't believe in Jesus – they think of Judaism as just another type of "western" religion and don't know the difference between it and say, catholicism, because they just don't care – and I can see how it might be confusing – after all, you believe in the same God.
    I know that sounds incredibly ignorant, even offensive to some, but can you name the gods of the hindu faith? (and I know that many will be able to, but many won't)
    It just depends on what you're exposed to and if you don't believe in a god anyway, then it kinda makes sense that you might not have taken the time to learn about someone elses relgion.

  31. Your nanny may know you are Jewish and still not know that you don't worship Jesus. People are quite ignorant of other's religions. I'm a non-practicing Catholic who sends my kid to a Bible-thumping Baptist camp each summer. He comes home with lots of questions and I just say, "Some people believe (fill in the blank)…."

  32. have they asked you who Jesus is? maybe you can just explain the bears are singing about your nanny's religion and they will just associate them with her? or you could tell them they can plug anyone's name in, instead of Jesus (don't know about the Bible part though). since someone asked…i am Christian and if someone(presumably Jewish) gave my kids a Hannukah toy, i would probably just explain that people celebrate all sorts of things and that person is Jewish and celebrates Hannukah. i want them to know there is more out there than their little bubble. no matter what, singing toys of any kind get annoying at some point. when the batteries go, they're gone.

  33. Sarah, that's true–I've met many smart, nice folks in NYC who didn't really know that Jesus is not a part of the Jewish religion. They think he's sort of like a saint or some religiously meaningful figure like Isaac.

  34. I wouldn't worry too much about the bear.

    I would worry, however, if you come and the kids are watching a DVD of 'The Passion of the Christ.'

  35. Stephanie – I wonder if you could swap them out for ones that sing, "Yes Moses loves me…yes, Moses loves me. Yes, Moses loves me…the Torah tells me so!"? Just a thought…

    Hope you are doing great Stephanie.


    PS – Still p.o.'ed at Phil…I sent him the link to the whole "Your identical twin lives in Cincinnati!" link…Nada. Whatevs.

  36. Hmmm, this reminds me of the time my evangelical Aunt gave my daughter a mustard seed necklace for her Bat Mitzvah…..

  37. Hmmm, This reminds me of the time my evangelical Aunt gave my daughter a mustard seed necklace for her Bat Mitzvah….

  38. Yeah, Texas. Always classy. Yee-Haw, big plates of food, and of course Jesus all start early in this joint.

  39. So funny. That's her way of expressing love.
    If your children are lucky this topic will come up in conversation many, many times in their childhoods because they will have close relationships with people from many religions – and no religion. Then when they grow up, they won't go on blogs and pour guilt on Jews about how much they do or don't go to temple, or whether or not they have a Christmas tree.
    No matter what religion you are, however, Lisa C.,according to Strunk & White and most educated people, it's "regardless" not "irregardless."

  40. Just because it's TX doesn't mean she's trying to push her religion on her. Stop with the bible-belt crap. It's a gift and I doubt she would try to push anything on anyone through a teddy bear. I am sure she didn't think anything of it seeing how Stephanie aknowledges Christmas and other holidays.

  41. though I'm a card-carrying atheist, we still say "Rub a dub, dub – thanks for the grub, yay god" or "God's neat, let's eat" when called upon for a prayer. Doesn't hurt one little thing.

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