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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 3, 2010 / 26 Kislev, 5771

Being Jewish at Christmastime

By Greg Crosby



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | On the web site About.com, a reformed Rabbi answers a question regarding what the "right" thing to do is when wished "Merry Christmas."

Question: "I am a Jewish woman living in a predominantly Christian part of Florida. I am tired of people wishing me a Merry Christmas. My usual response to people I don't know well is, "Yeah, you too." If it's someone I see often -- like my hair stylist -- I usually tell them around November that our family is Jewish and we are looking forward to celebrating Hanukkah. How should Jews respond to "Merry Christmas" greetings?"

Answer: Dear Judy, Thank you for your question. It is a question, I think, that almost every North American Jew has asked of themselves at some point: How do I respond when someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas"?

Like you, I live in a part of the world where Jews are a small minority. To make matters worse, I have two young children, so I also have to deal with well-meaning strangers who ask my kids, "What is Santa bringing you for Christmas?" You can imagine the strange looks when I have to explain, politely, that our children do not celebrate Christmas and Santa does not visit our house.

My advice is to be polite, but persistent, in telling people that you do not celebrate Christmas. When Jews and other non-Christians acquiesce to "Merry Christmas" greetings with responses like, "You, too," or just nervous smiles, we only perpetuate the idea that Christmas is for everyone.

I am always amazed when people who know full well that I am Jewish ask me and my children questions like, "How does your family celebrate Christmas?", "Do you have a tree?" and "Don't you give presents on Christmas day?" It is not that people intend to dismiss the integrity of Judaism as a distinct religion; they just have internalized the assumption that, in America, everyone celebrates Christmas.

What do you say when well-wishers wish you a "merry Christmas"? My answer is, "Thank you, but I don't celebrate Christmas. Let me wish you the best on your holiday." It's worth taking the time to get the point across.

What about Hanukkah? I avoid saying, "We celebrate Hanukkah," as a response to Christmas greetings. Even more than I want to tell people that Christmas is not for everyone, I want to insist that Hanukkah is not the "Jewish Christmas."

Hanukkah is a minor holiday. It is a time for Jewish families to spend a little extra time together on the darkest evenings of the year, to watch candles flicker, and to consider the presence of miracles in our lives. Hanukkah is best when it is kept small. It may sound strange to hear a rabbi say it, but I don't really want strangers to wish me a "happy Hanukkah," either -- especially if they think that it's just the way to wish a Jew a merry Christmas! I hope that this is helpful.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser
Congregation Beth Israel

Writer, actor and political /social commentator Ben Stein, had a different take on the question back in December of 2005 on the CBS Sunday Morning show. His commentary has been repeated and sent worldwide on the internet ever since. He said the following:

"Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.

And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in G0d are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship G0d as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to."

Throughout the 20th Century American Jewish writers, artists, and song writers have contributed to a lot of what we've come to think of as the American Christmas culture, along with American Jewish movie moguls, advertising men, retailers and toy manufacturers. It may sound laughable, but many claim that the best Christmas movies and Christmas songs of the last century were written by Jewish guys.

I think it is altogether possible to be Jewish and to enjoy the American Christmas season with our fellow Americans. I'm not for "Jews for Jesus" or embracing the Christian religion in any way, shape, or form. We need to be true to our own religion. But one doesn't have to be a Christian to grasp the spirit of Christmas, to participate in the virtues of charity, faith, goodwill and love. Those values are as much Jewish as they are Christian. All of us Americans, Jews and gentiles, can and should come together as a nation at this happy, warm time of year. How could it hurt?

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2008, Greg Crosby

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