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 You can't celebrate Chanukah and Christmas

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Dena

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PostSubject: You can't celebrate Chanukah and Christmas   Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:38 pm

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Kveller Article


Thoughts? I tend to agree with her but I don't know how other people define "celebrating". I will spend time with my in-laws on Christmas Eve and Christmas. We don't exchange gifts, sing carols or do anything Christmasy. We'll just be together and there will be Christmas decorations in their home.
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mikedoyleblogger

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PostSubject: Re: You can't celebrate Chanukah and Christmas   Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:59 pm

Actually, being a Jew is a religion of individuality balanced with community. There is a sliding scale denoting how much individuality one is willing to let the community define which depends on denomination. But individuality is not lost in any way in Judaism. Judaism is not a totalitarian religion, and Jews do not cede power over their lives and actions to the Jewish community.

Moreover, no Jew had any right to tell another Jew how to live their lives, whether in terms of observance or anything else. We self-select into our chosen denominational communities, but those communities have no power to determine what we believe or how we live. In fact, the only point of power of the Jewish community over the individual is over converts, since the community must decide to let a convert become a Jew. But that single moment of conversion is where it begins and ends.

Individual Jews have a right to feel concern over the behavior of other Jews, just as they have a right to feel anything else they feel. But they don't have a right to dictate to fellow Jews how to live as Jews.

I know many people raised in Christian homes who have as little religious regard for or engagement with Christian holidays, most especially with Christmas, as do quite frankly the majority of Jews in America. Unaffiliated Jews are the largest number of Jews in the Diaspora. And anyone who tries to argue with a secular American Jew that going home for dinner on Passover makes them or their observance of the holiday religious will lose the argument.

Why do we as Jews think we should win the same type of argument with Christians over their own holidays? It's not a question of convincing other Jews that they should or could feel o.k. to have a tree in their homes during December. It's a question of reminding Jews that it's o.k. to find answers about December traditions within themselves without feeling like they have to defer to disapproving opinions of other Jews.

The answer to the question, "Is it right for Jews to celebrate Christmas?" should really be, "Mind your own business."
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: You can't celebrate Chanukah and Christmas   Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:54 pm

What Christmas is to Christians or to non-Jews who celebrate it is not the point.

But Christmas is not Jewish. And a Christmas tree is not Jewish regardless of what kind of decorations you use. If it is not a Christmas tree then why is it put up in December? If it was put up inside a sukkah in October with Sukkot-like decorations, that would be different.

And although individual Jews, like individuals of any other group, choose what they themselves do, an individual saying that something is Jewish does not make it Jewish. Many Jews eat bacon, but that does not make pork Jewish.

Jews by birth who do Christmas rituals for themselves (as opposed to doing so as guests to accompany others) are either assimilated or feel left out of the majority traditions. I think that converts to Judaism who come from Christmas-celebrating backgrounds who don't or can't give up Christmas should recognize that it stems from an inability to leave that part of their non-Jewish selves behind. And it is different situation from when done by Jews by Birth who either were brought up with a Christmas tree in their home or gave into the pleading of their children who wanted to have one because all of their friends did.

I was rather surprised by the Christmas tree that I saw in my Jewish college roommate's house several years ago. She is a proud and dedicated Reform Jew. I would never tell her that there is anything wrong with her having a tree any more than I would comment on her eating bacon (which she likes). It's not my home or my life. But on the other hand, I do not believe that her doing them makes either of those two things Jewish. They are (non-Jewish) things that a particular Jew chooses to do.

Fitting in with norms and expectations of Jews is part of what is means to become a convert to Judaism. Otherwise, why convert? You could do and believe everything without the conversion.
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You can't celebrate Chanukah and Christmas
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