I’ve always loved Christmas songs. However, growing up in an observant Jewish household, they were sort of forbidden. Like ham. Although, truth be told, I never found ham all that appealing.
The…fact is, Christmas music is fun. It’s jingly and jangly and just uplifting enough to keep you from wanting to kill the driver in front of you while you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic because… well… it’s Christmas. Each year during the Christmas breaks of my childhood in central New Jersey, my parents would load our… >> Read More
Here in the U.S., many of us Jews spend Christmas eating Chinese food and watching movies — “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” to be said in Seinfeld-ian voice. Personally, I love a…good vegetarian moo shoo and movie. But apparently in Iceland, it’s a national tradition to spend Christmas Eve eating and drinking chocolate and reading new books (!!!). I mean, I’m big into Judaism, but this is a kind of holiday I can definitely get behind. It’s called Jolabokaflod, which basically means “Christmas book flood.”… >> Read More
They're timed to happen a week or two before Christmas. They usually feature treats like gingerbread or eggnog; decorations usually include wreaths, tinsel, maybe an illuminated tree. And while your…office or your neighbors may call it a "holiday party," I'm here to tell you something: These are Christmas parties. So can we please drop the pretense that these parties are non-specific "seasonal celebrations?" Over the years, I’ve attended my share of office holiday celebrations, neighborly get-togethers, and school “seasonal concerts." Some have been fantastic; … >> Read More
My daughter is in first grade, and she is the only Jewish kid in her class.
This is familiar territory for us: As a child, I was the solo Jew in my public school classroom, too. This made me…unique, and I always felt special being Jewish amongst my throng of Christian friends. Around the holiday season, my friends loved celebrating Hanukkah with me, and often gifted me eight presents while I handed them my one Christmas gift in return. The other week, I learned my oldest daughter was assigned the role of Christmas… >> Read More
Turns out, it is still hard to be the Jewish kid at Christmas time. Even in 2018. Even in Los Angeles and its environs. Or suburban New York. Or the North Shore suburbs of Chicago.
As a rabbi, I…often field the Jewish questions from friends; I’m basically their go-to Jewish Google. So, imagine my embarrassment when I couldn’t easily answer a question from my oldest and dearest friend, who now lives in a very Jewish suburb of New York. Turns out, her daughter — now attending public kindergarten — has, surprise surprise, begun… >> Read More