From a Jew: America can ignore Hanukkah. It needs Christmas.
Hanukkah can't compete with Christmas. And it shouldn't. Applying fairness to the holidays treats apples like oranges. So I say keep celebrating Christmas boldly, publicly, and without apology. It’s the holiday of the majority and has become America's festival of hope and charity.
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But really it’s a holiday that celebrates Jewish resolve against assimilation. Which is ironic, considering it’s the only Jewish holiday that’s been assimilated.Skip to next paragraph
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Giving gifts only became part of Hanukkah in the last hundred years, when the Goldsteins wanted to keep up with the Smiths. And because the holiday lasts eight days, some families started giving a present each day as if that would help Hanukkah outshine Christmas. It’s not going to happen.
For one thing, we don’t have a soundtrack. Have you heard the Dreidel song? It was never covered by Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra.
The truth is, Hanukkah can’t compete with Christmas. And it shouldn’t. While certainly well-intentioned, the attempt to be inclusive – to include the menorah in public displays and Hanukkah alongside Christmas in greeting cards – can seem a bit condescending. The message, at least to me, is that no matter how different our traditions seem, they’re all the same underneath. And that’s just not true.
For example, there’s no parallel in Christianity for the Jewish practice of keeping kosher. And there’s no Jewish version of the miracle of the virgin birth. Diversity is about respecting differences, not finding the thread that makes us all the same.
So I say keep on celebrating Christmas boldly, publicly, and without apology. It’s the holiday of the majority, and it’s a beautiful mix of the secular and the spiritual. Christmas is a religious holiday, but it’s also become our American festival of hope and charity. It’s the time of year people volunteer at soup kitchens and flood charities with much needed donations. It’s about the eternal victory of light over darkness. Christmas is the time many of us recognize what a wonderful life we have. We need Christmas in America.
Jim Sollisch is creative director at Marcus Thomas Advertising.
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