Jewish Christmas. Is it a thing?
As stores promote Christmas earlier every year, the Jewish community has more time to ponder “December Dilemma” questions. How should Jews approach Christmas? Can Jews celebrate Christmas? Is there such as thing as Jewish Christmas? Or Jewish Christmas trees? Or embrace our own Jewish Christmas traditions such as eating Chinese food on Christmas?
Moment asked experts, clergy and community members their ideas and opinions on celebrating Jewish Christmas.
Every year, Jews face the “December dilemma”—what to do on Christmas? Or, is it okay to do something? In his book A Kosher Christmas, Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut tells about the evolution of Jewish Christmas traditions in the United States, from the late 1800s to our days. The book is full of historical references to private and public lives, furnished with curiosities and fun facts—did you know that Theodor Herzl decorated his house in Vienna with a Christmas tree?
American Jews have a complicated and evolving relationship with Christmas. And just as the gentiles are increasingly participating in Jewish customs (ex. Chinese food and the movies) so too are Jews increasingly engaging with Christmas traditions. One of these is the singing of Christmas Carols. Back in 2005, we explored this in an edition of our famed “Ask the Rabbis” column.
This past Saturday my family sat around the Christmas tree to unwrap presents. As I was negotiating the space between my faith community of choice and that of my birth, so too were my relatives. I realized that this experience – my first Christmas as a Jew – was not only my own, but shared among my family. just as I was nervous about coming to the table that year, I suspect that each of them felt a bit of trepidation as well.
This collection of biographies of brave and brilliant Jewish women–selected in collaboration with the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and including an introduction written by the Supreme Court justice herself. This intergenerational book features a roster of inspirational historical role models and recounts the life story of Justice Ginsburg and why these women were important to her. Includes a call to action. (Random House)
‘This book is a treasure, filled with stories of remarkable Jewish women. Some of the names will sound familiar, many are not; all deserve more attention for their courage and determination. It‘s great reading for girls—and boys—eager for role models–and the rest of the family too!’ (Ann F. Lewis, former White House Communications Director)
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