We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse).
(Sorry, honey.) Hanukkah has only grown bigger year after year, even in many interfaith homes, which demonstrates that most American Jews don’t want to assimilate away into the warm embrace of tinsel and eggnog but instead are proclaiming their Jewish identity loudly and proudly. Click here for access to comments COMMENTING CHARGES Daily rate: Monthly rate: Yearly rate: 0 WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Yet almost all Japanese families put up Christmas trees and teach their kids to believe in Santa Claus.There are many roads to a meaningful religious experience, Christianity is one, Judaism another, Shintoism, another still.Some of them are more inclusive, some less so, and some are mutually contradictory.Thankfully, I hear these recriminations about interfaith families less frequently than I used to.I’d be shocked if there is a single Reform rabbi out there who’d admit to an anti-Christmas-tree sermon in the past decade—and that’s not, as some cynics might argue, out of fear of unemployment.This does not make them any less meaningful for their adherents.But they are distinct, as are Judaism and Christianity. Take the Star off the Top of the Tree and you have a pagan winter festival.Only celebrate the gifts at the foot of the Tree and you’ve built an altar to Consumerism.I enjoy visiting my Christian neighbors and take pleasure in their celebration of Christmas. It is simply not mine nor that of my children who know the difference between appreciating the belief of others and observing what is their own, and not confusing the two.Try explaining the concept of Jesus as messiah to Japanese people and most will look at you politely but baffled. In many cases, it can be confusing for young children being raised Jewish to also celebrate Christmas in their home—which is why, in fact, I don’t feel like such a Grinch denying the tree to my own future children: Even though it was a part of my wife’s childhood experience, it’s not really a part of her true cultural heritage—and our kids will be confused enough being 100 percent American, 100 percent Jewish, and 100 percent Japanese.If my wife and I were to have a tree, would that represent “Christianity,” even though there are no Christians in our home? But after working with literally thousands of interfaith families as a Jewish communal professional over the past decade, I feel that I’m in a much better position to suggest what a Christmas tree actually symbolizes than those critics. There are well over a million intermarried Jews in the United States and likely more intermarried than single-faith households.