A lot has been said recently about Jews celebrating Christmas. Benjamin Solomon the editor in chief of Next magazine writes about his love for Christmas, his childhood memories of the Christmas carols, Christmas parties and Christmas trees and yet despite his love for the holiday he cannot help as a Jew from New Jersey being torn between his Judaism and celebrating this Christian holiday.
Benjamin is not the only Jew that gets affected by this holiday. Hassidic Jews also commemorate this Christian festival. The Hassidim refer to Christmas Eve as Nittel Nacht. A night where they believe that the evil inclinations are in full force and they behave accordingly. On Nittel Nacht, Hassidim refrain from Sexual activities believing that only evil can be conceived from this day, they also refrain from learning Torah and as a result it has become a popular evening amongst them for card games and playing chess. Overall Christmas eve with this crowd is a night to remember how much we as Jews hate the Goyim as the night symbolizes historic Christian hostilities against Jews, such as pogroms.
Jewish parents in an effort to prevent their children from wanting to celebrate Christmas traditionally tell their children that Hannuka is for the Jews and Christmas is for the Christians but this approach seems to fall short and this year parents are being urged to not simply reply that we have Hannuka but also that we have Pesach, Succot and all the other festivals so that the child will feel satisfied with his Judaism. Some of the most frequently asked questions by parents this year have included
Is it okay if my child sits on Santa’s lap?
What if my child sings Christmas carols?
Should I let my child decorate a friend’s Christmas tree?
Is it okay for my child to receive Christmas presents from relatives?
Then there are of course the Jews who have largely contributed to Christmas as we know it. Most of the Christmas themed shows that will be aired on TV over Christmas were directed and produced by the Weinstein company (especially on the Hallmark channel). The clothes that Americans will buy to celebrate the festival will no doubt come from Macy’s department store and then of course there’s the candy that kids eat on Christmas including Ben and Jerry’s which will again mainly be coming from Jewish sources.
In fact the most famous Christmas songs of all time were written by Jews. “Winter Wonderland” which is always at the top of Christmas music charts was co- written by Felix Bernard, who was born in Brooklyn in the 1920’s to immigrant parents. Felix, whose mother’s maiden name was Zindel, was able to write this song in English, despite the fact that his main language was Yiddish. There are over 25 other world famous songs written for this period by Jews, including “Santa Clause is coming to town” and the classics “let it snow” and “White Christmas” which was written by the son of a Rabbi, Irvin Berlin.
So if you are Jewish and wondering what to do this Christmas, the advice seems to be as follows; firstly go to work. The odds are that your Christian colleagues often have to put in a shift whilst you are away on a Jewish holiday. If you lived in Mexico City you would have to cover for a Christian today as part of project called “brotherhood”. If you live near a Chinese restaurant feel free to celebrate there as they will almost certainly be open and also if you like to gamble and reside in America then tonight is night for you to hit the casinos, they will still be open and there will be nobody there apart from Jews and some Indians.
Ho Ho Ho and a merry Chritsmas