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Making Sense of It All

Saturday, 27 November 2010

[This was published on motzei Shabbat]


Photo: Microsoft Office

And…it starts.

With Thanksgiving a thing of the recent past, the focus is now on Christmas. Right on schedule, our neighbourhood is all ablaze.

They are so pretty, these Christmas lights. That’s right. I like Christmas lights. On Christian houses. They are a festive way for Christians to enhance their Christmas celebration. My kids like them too. On Christian houses. They are perplexed when they see Christmas lights on Jewish houses. They don’t understand why Jews would put up Christmas lights.

To tell you the truth, neither do I.

I have tried to explain, to the best of my ability, why some Jews feel the need to do as their neighbours do. My kids throw back that old Brooklyn Bridge adage.

At least they’ve been paying attention.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Deborah Schoen permalink
    Saturday, 27 November 2010 10:27 pm

    I also like to look at the Christmas lights on Christian homes. What I don’t understand is why some Jewish families have to either put up lights, or put up a “Chanukah bush”?

    We have many great holidays, Chanukah, being one of them, why are they not content?

  2. Saturday, 27 November 2010 10:33 pm

    I’ll never forget the year that my son said, “look, sukkah lights!” when he saw the lit up trees…

  3. Former Reform Jew permalink
    Sunday, 28 November 2010 1:20 am

    When I was a kid, I used to point to the houses that we drove past in our neighborhood on any given December evening. I would say loud out “Christian, Christian, Jewish, Christian, Jewish, Jewish…”

    I did not live in a very Jewish neighborhood. Rather, at five or six years old, I had simply assumed that any house with lights on it was a Christian house, and any house that was unadorned was a Jewish house.

    My mother corrected my logical error. I didn’t reply, but instead silently wondered… …the lights are so much fun, what good reason would a non-Jewish family have to abstain?

  4. Sunday, 28 November 2010 2:53 am

    I was the boy who told all of the other kids that Santa Claus wasn’t real. I don’t understand the lights. Although I should add that I told someone that Chanukah is about the Jewish Taliban.

    A bunch of angry bearded men wearing Borsalinos storm the shuls that they disagree with and scream at the people there for not wearing long beards and streimels.

  5. Sunday, 28 November 2010 11:33 am

    I was the Jew that was raised with a Christmas tree and lights, now that I am older, I am finding my way to my true heritage.

    This year I have bought a menorah and cannot wait to celebrate.

    I’m finding that being Jewish certainly is a gift.

    Hasya Ya’ara

  6. Sunday, 28 November 2010 7:06 pm

    What I have found perplexing is some of what I saw in a recent Jewish items catalog. They had driedel lights for chanukah, that you could hang around your house. And I also saw inflatable chanukah lawn decorations. When we did we start trying to ape the holiday decorations of our neighbors and have gaudy Jewish decorations to keep pace with the gaudy Christmas decorations?

    I too like the lights – on other houses. On my house, it’s not appropriate.

  7. Former Reform Jew permalink
    Monday, 29 November 2010 8:07 am

    Jack, that comment is patently absurd. The Boraslino wearers would NEVER try to persuade someone else to put on a shtreimel. :o)

    Still, I agree with you. If the rank and file Reform Temple members really understood what Chanukah was about, they would more likely boycott it than celebrate it.


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