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.