The Grinch Stole Chrismukkah

Hanukkah and Christmas Are Irreconcilable Holidays

I’m No Kill-Joy: Jordana Horn doesn’t want to steal anyone’s holiday fun. But she believes you simply can’t celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.
nate lavey
I’m No Kill-Joy: Jordana Horn doesn’t want to steal anyone’s holiday fun. But she believes you simply can’t celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.

By Jordana Horn

Published December 22, 2011, issue of December 30, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

In my opinion, Jews shouldn’t celebrate Christmas.

And that was the sentence that launched a thousand lips.

I encapsulated my feelings on Jews and Christmas in a blog post I wrote for Kveller, a Jewish parenting website for which I am a contributing editor. I wrote that “if you really look at the meanings of the holidays, there is a fundamental cognitive dissonance that can’t be reconciled. Specifically: The entire point of Hanukkah is to celebrate people who died rather than practice any religion other than Judaism. And to celebrate that and a holiday that celebrates the birth of someone who Christians believe is the son of God does not make sense.”

Christmas is a Christian holiday and, in my opinion, should not be celebrated in a Jewish home, even by an intermarried couple. This does, after all, seem to be the message of Hanukkah itself. “The Maccabees would rather die than observe any religion other than their own — they recognized that they would and could not be anything other than who they were, Jews,” I wrote. “And it is that determination to be who we are and no one else that is what we are celebrating when we celebrate Hanukkah. It’s not presents, not the endless Jewish song YouTube videos and not the ‘holiday spirit.’ What we are celebrating, I’d argue, is bravery and defiance in the name of protecting our Judaism and who we truly are. That is the true miracle. The miracles are those lights of people’s Jewish identities, fighting against the darkness of the rest of the world that threatens to consume them.”

The post went up on December 14. By the end of the weekend, the piece had elicited an extraordinary response online, covering the spectrum of approval to disapproval. More than 1,000 people had linked to the essay on Facebook.

There were those who said there is nothing “wrong” with intermarried, non-Jewish parents sharing their traditions and faith with their Jewish children. Others argued that Christmas has, in America, become a secular holiday akin to Halloween or Valentine’s Day, and therefore it is perfectly “kosher” (my word choice), particularly for a more secular-leaning Jew. “Jordana, what you’re doing with this piece is really the most divisive thing that Jews do to other Jews these day, which is to tell your fellow Jews that they are not ‘Jewish enough,’” one writer commented.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.