The New York Times' list of most emailed stories is the Times' favorite barometer for what's buzzing on the web. Certain things always seem to float to the top of the list, no matter if the content in the articles is actually good or not: all of Maureen Dowd's columns, stuff about summer camp, and anything that has to do with being Jewish.
The Gray Lady is surely making gains on December traffic goals this week by hosting four stories about Hanukkah on its site. But which one will your mom forward to your inbox this weekend, so that you can read it first thing at work Monday morning? This is a guide to understanding your Jewish mother and don't forget about the influence a good rabbi can have on her.
The Spiel: A mother wrestles with the decision of whether or not to gift her son the in-app purchases, video game level-ups you pay for, he so strongly desires. She's wracked with Jewish guilt to the nth degree over this. She eventually caves, but also buys him tickets to a Broadway show and a model airplane to make sure she's not just wasting her money on fake stuff.
Would Your Rabbi Use It In A Sermon: Rabbi's love including stuff about Apple products in their weekly adresses, especially if they don't understand what they're talking about. The whole thing is about tradition vs. modernity, which is always a veritable slam dunk.
Her Added Message: "Hi Eric, I thought you'd enjoy this. Remember when you wanted Creepy Crawlers for Hanukkah but I didn't get you them? This reminded me of you. Be at dinner at 7:30."
Chances Your Mom Will Forward It: 6/10 odds, mostly for nostalgic reasons
The Spiel: A mother is forced to watch her four-year-old son face that awkward moment when someone asks the Jewish boy what he's getting for Christmas. He politely answers, "I celebrate Hanukkah." What a little mensch. The mother is left full of pride that her Jewish teachings have left an impression on her son and that she has beaten Santa Claus.
Would Your Rabbi Use It In A Sermon: This is the stuff that makes rabbis go nuts. A little child embracing hebrew teachings. It's coming to a bima near you.
Her Added Message: "Hi Melissa, this is why you need to find a good hebrew school for Sean. It's not funny and it wouldn't hurt you to go to Friday night services with him either. I love you."
Chances Your Mom Will Forward It: 9/10, mostly to bug you to go to shul.
The Spiel: A writer reflects on the strange conventions associated with Hannukah gift-giving. The holiday lasts eight nights, so does one really need to buy eight presents? Kitschy memories are shared.
Would Your Rabbi Use It In A Sermon: Probably not. "You should give the most to your children" is a message that could be used pretty well though.
Her Added Message: "David, there's no reason that you shouldn't be sending me eight presents this year. I am disappointed in you."
Chances Your Mom Will Forward It: 4/10, mostly to make you feel guilty about your gifting habits.
The Spiel: The NYT explains how the Hanukkah story changed from representing war and religious freedoms, to a holiday about gift giving and magic oil. It's a longer piece with the perfect headline to get your mother hanging blue tinsel around the house. This is the big one folks.
Would Your Rabbi Use It In A Sermon: You rabbi probably has this printed out and is rereading it over and over again. This is his white whale.
Her Added Message: "Rebecca, during this holiday I really want you to think about what it really means. I know you don't want to come home and see me, but you really should. Also, do you need a menorah? I have extras."
Chances Your Mom Will Forward It: 10/10, mostly to get you to actually celebrate Hanukkah.