Not all Jews hate Christmas. In fact, many of us celebrate it – The Forward


Editor’s Note: The letter below comments on the original title of Jodi Rudoren’s “Looking Forward” column from November 19th. This title was changed shortly after publication, unrelated to this letter.

For the publisher:

It is not easy to be part of a religious minority in the United States, a country with European colonial origins and a long history of Christian hegemony. I know from my own experience that it is not easy to be Jewish. It is also not easy to be a Muslim, a Sikh, a Hindu, a Buddhist or a pagan.

So I hear the frustration, the life of being ignored and misunderstood, and the fear of assimilation, expressed in Jodi Rudoren’s recent column in The Forward. But the play was originally titled “I’m a Jew Who Hates Christmas (Or Just Wants To Be Left Out Of It).” And I found that, and the tone of the play, disturbing.

Reviews | Not all Jews hate Christmas. In fact, many of us celebrate it

Expressing hatred towards someone else’s religious holiday, even if it is meant to be spiritual, will not advance the agenda of interfaith understanding, combating anti-Semitism, or achieving peace in the world. the world. Imagine a Christian writing an essay titled “I Hate Chanukah”.

The publicity that sparked Rudoren is, like America, still mainly devoted to Christmas. This is still our demographic reality, and it’s not surprising. I don’t expect anything else from advertisers as we head into a great buying season.

Reviews | Not all Jews hate Christmas. In fact, many of us celebrate it

But this ad, notable for its racial diversity, actually depicts people (presumably Jewish) dancing with boxes of Chinese takeout at a Chinese restaurant. I have never seen a reference to this beloved Jewish Christmas Day tradition in an advertisement before. (I strongly suspect the ad creators included Jews!).

The people in this restaurant weren’t wearing Santa’s hats or pajamas. They could represent people like Rudoren, who doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all. And yet, they kind of sparked his tirade. She is even somewhat insulted that the menorah bulbs are in a rainbow of colors, rather than just blue and white – as if the Hanukkah candles don’t come in popular multi-colored packaging. by LGBTQ families and children of all ages.

I understand wanting to separate Hanukkah and Christmas. I am an interfaith child, interfaith spouse, and interfaith parent, and my interfaith family keeps these vacations separate, rather than mixing them up and mixing them up.

Reviews | Not all Jews hate Christmas. In fact, many of us celebrate it

The point is, most Jews in the United States today have extended families – if not a spouse, then a sibling or step-parent’s spouse or cousins ​​- celebrating Christmas. So, hearing about the hate of Christmas is not only offensive, it is anachronistic.

As Rudoren noted, Pew Research has found that the majority of Jews married since 2010 are in interfaith relationships. And that means that many children who grow up with a Jewish parent also have a parent who is not Jewish. And many of these children celebrate Christmas, whether secular or religious.

Reviews | Not all Jews hate Christmas. In fact, many of us celebrate it

Jews from these interfaith families have different responses to some of the ubiquitous Christmas icons – to the tree, to the lights, to the Christmas carols, to the gifts. But as someone who grew up Jewish in an interfaith family who also celebrated Christmas, I can tell you that members of the interfaith family have a totally different focus on the holiday than someone who grew up with only a Jewish family. . You can choose not to celebrate Christmas, but hate is really not a healthy option.

So I respect the fact that everyone has their own experience with the overwhelming and marketed Christmas messaging every December, and in the age of the internet anyone can write about it. Nonetheless, I would like to gently stress that the expression of hatred, while cathartic, will alienate many Jews in interfaith families, and members of their adjacent Jewish families, not to mention random Christians.

For some of our family, Christmas is not just a publicity ploy, but a deeply religious holiday. And from a Jewish point of view, we are commanded in Leviticus “to love your neighbor as yourself”. It doesn’t mean you have to love Christmas. But for me, that means working on empathy for those who have practices different from mine, especially in interfaith families.

Reviews | Not all Jews hate Christmas. In fact, many of us celebrate it

And that could mean that in order to avoid hurting others, it would be better to quietly contemplate the personal and political history that arouses the hatred of Christmas, rather than spreading those feelings around the world. And it might even mean thinking about how Christianity is declining in American religious culture, and how it might create the opportunity for all of us to be more loving and inclusive.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Forward.

Not all Jews hate Christmas. In fact, many of us celebrate it


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