Christmas Is for Jews, Too

Two Jewish writers say they celebrate the holiday
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2013 1:38 PM CST
Christmas Is for Jews, Too
Visitors to the Wisconsin state Capitol walk past a menorah and Festivus pole on display in the rotunda, along with the 30-foot Christmas tree on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, in Madison, Wis.   (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

People often try to tell Charlotte Alter that she shouldn't celebrate Christmas because she's Jewish. Her response? "First, mind your own business and leave my gingerbread house alone," she writes at Time. For many, this holiday is about Santa, not Jesus—and who's to say he's not Jewish? "Santa doesn't wear a cross around his neck, but he does have a beard that could rival Tevye's." He wouldn't be the only one; Jews are all over Christmas, from Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, to Irving Berlin and Jule Styne, who wrote "White Christmas" and "Let it Snow" respectively. Alter even talked to a rabbi who said celebrating was "not in itself a transgressive act," for Jews, as long as they're not celebrating Christ as the Messiah.

That's good, because 32% of Jews have a Christmas tree, a recent Pew survey revealed. Christmas has become a secular American holiday, like Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July. That's true even for religious Jews like Dennis Prager at RealClearPolitics, whose Orthodox family nonetheless watched the Vatican's mass every year. "The notion that non-Christians are excluded is absurd," he argues; those who argue otherwise are, in his mind, secular liberals trying to divide America. "The entire society—Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists as well as Christians—all benefit from the goodness and joy that the Christmas season engenders." Click for Alter's full column, or here for Prager's. (Read more Christmas stories.)

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