Jews and Christmas trees

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Here at jeffpearlman.com, where dreams come true and bribes are accepted, I like having up-and-comers speak their mind. Hence, Yaron Weitzman—a junior at NYU, an aspiring journalist and the pride of New Rochelle—has been contributing his weekly thoughts

Today’s assignment: Write an essay on Jews and Christmas trees …

Adam Sandler has always been one of my favorite celebrities.  Not because of his comedy or movies, but because he is the rare public figure who seems proud of his Jewish faith. Whether through the Chanukah Song, making You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, or wearing a Hebrew Coca Cola T-shirt on television, Sandler has always embraced his Jewish background—and I love him for it.

Historically speaking, being Jewish isn’t the easiest thing. However, we live in a world—and, more specifically a country—where Jews can freely practice their religion and be proud of their ethnicity. On Sunday night I will be celebrated Chanukah by attending a Matisyahu concert at Webster Hall. That’s right, I am going to watch a Hasidic Jew rap and sing reggae in one of New York City’s biggest clubs because it is a Jewish holiday. In other words, it’s never been this easy to be Jewish.

That is why I find it extremely disturbing when I hear of Jews putting up Christmas trees.

Let me be clear—I don’t believe every Jew should be observant or walk around pounding his/her chest while screaming, “I’m a Chosen Person!”  What I do strongly feel, however, is that any country where a non-Jewish member of government writes a song about Chanukah is a country where Jews should not be shamed into adopting customs directly conflicting with their own.

If a Jewish person decides that lighting eight candles is not for them, I completely understand. Religion and faith are not for everyone, and Judaism certainly has its issues.

And maybe I’m a tad biased, having been raised in an observant home by parents who both work in the Jewish community.  But the idea that someone would be so ashamed of being Jewish that they would adopt a non-Jewish tradition is incredibly depressing. (And yes I know Christmas trees have next-to-no Christian meaning and Christmas has for the most part now become a secular American holiday, but that doesn’t change the issue).

We live in a world with popular rapping Hasidic Jews, Christian Senators writing songs about menorahs and mainstream movies making fun of Israeli spies being released.

If Jews can’t be proud of their religion now, it’ll never happen …

2 thoughts on “Jews and Christmas trees”

  1. Quote: But the idea that someone would be so ashamed of being Jewish that they would adopt a non-Jewish tradition is incredibly depressing.

    It’s not clear to me how you arrived at this conclusion. If a Jew puts up a Christmas tree it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s ashamed of being Jewish. As you pointed out, Christmas trees have little to no religious meaning; they are a purely American cultural tradition. Maybe they just like having a tree and decorating it because it looks pretty. Or smells nice. I don’t think you have to immediately call the local synagogue to tell them there’s an ashamed Jew just because one has put a Christmas tree.

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