Hallmark of Hanukkah Symbols of Light and Hope Run Deep in Judaism and Christianity, So as Area Jews May Be Feeling Left out at This Time of Year, More People Are Coming to Respect That Christmas Isn't Everyone's Holiday

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Byline: Nancy Gier Daily Herald Staff Writer

As the working world grinds to a halt on Christmas Day, many Jews seek alternatives to just having a day off.

Dr. Neal Edelson is the assistant director of emergency services at Sherman Hospital in Elgin. He has worked every Christmas for the last 16 years. Unlike some hospitals which assign holiday shifts based on seniority, Sherman staffing on Christmas is voluntary.

Being Jewish, Edelson volunteers to work every year. Although his sister is married to a Christian and he enjoys going to their home for a Christmas night celebration, he feels it's important for his co-workers to be with their families.

"A lot of the people I work with have small kids and for them especially, they want to be at home on Christmas morning," he said.

According to Edelson, Christmas Day in the ER is different than most other days and not only because of the food table staffers enjoy throughout the morning.

"Things usually start out pretty quiet, but around noon until about 4 p.m., we get a ton of little kids coming through. We see things like vomiting, flu, things that normally they would call their doctor's office about, but since the doctor's office is closed, we're the safety net," he said. "After the gift opening, everyone converges on the emergency room."

Christmas can be a hard time of year for Paula Krapf of Geneva. Krapf is Jewish and living in a predominantly Christian community.

"My daughter is in kindergarten at Harrison School," Krapf said, "and when she saw all the Christmas items in the store the day after Halloween, she said, 'Not already.' She's awfully young to be fed up. But then I realized, she just doesn't want to be overlooked."

Krapf believes that Jewish children can easily feel left out as their classmates embrace plans for Christmas concerts and parties. She spoke to her daughter's teacher, who arranged for Krapf's daughter to tell her class about Hanukkah. Krapf believes that children must retain their own identity, but she also thinks tensions have eased. …