just a personal thought

My husband has had a long correspondence with you. However, today was the first time I had read any of your comments… having to do with a Santa Claus and G-d Bless America.

 

I must admit you made me do something I thought I had left behind 4 decades ago… I rolled my eyes.

 

I was born Christian… became athiest as a teenager… and, eventually converted to Judaism. In the decades since then I had to keep explaining to my mother and extended family how someone who loved Xmas as much as I could turn away from Jesus and Christianity. By the time I had a child I thought it through front to back and inside out. And the answer is …. pay attention…. Christmas and Santa Claus has moved far beyond a Christian holy day.

 

Santa and Xmas are truly well established holidays celebrating Americana. Celebrating the Americana aspects is NOT forcing religion, it is partaking of a portion of what glues us all together. Shared celebrations are a social glue, so long as they do not force compliance. Xmas does not force Christian worship. Thanksgiving does not force thanks to G-d. Halloween does not force one to deal with evil spirits. Everyone in this country has the right to participate or not.

 

When you get so paranoid or so thin-skinned that others cannot celebrate holidays that appeal to you, or cannot cook and eat foods of other cultures without hysteria breaking out about appropriation…. when you encourage this histrionic response every time someone sees a hiccup they don’t like…. you have become more disruptive to our country and civility than Donald Trump will ever be.

 

You, young man, have passed that point. As my blessing on you this season, whether you want it or not, I wish and pray for you to take the time to clearly evaluate what you are really doing.

 

Hashem bless and keep you in this season.

 

(name withheld)


 

On Dec 6, 2019, at 8:06 PM, (name withheld) wrote:

 

Dear (name withheld):

 

As a rabbi and former military Jewish chaplain, I would attempt to give you an answer that might clear the air a bit about what you wrote to Mikey.  While you maintain that Christmas and Santa Claus have moved into the mainstream of Americana, I would say that you have stated a position with which many Americans would accept and agree.  I, however, would take exception.  I, myself, do not in any way celebrate Christmas and I do not believe that Santa Claus plays any role whatsoever in my life and in the lives of many, many other Americans: Jews, Muslims, Wiccans and others.

 

That Christmas, to many more, has become the commercialized holiday that it has is bothersome to many Christians who believe that its religious significance and meaning has been subverted.

 

Given the basic traditions and meanings of Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Jesus, I would think it hypocritical of me to call Christmas any part of my life either as a religious or civil observance.  Therein, as a liberal rabbi, I never taught, pointed to, or mentioned Christmas in any of the religious educational programs or services which I led or taught in.  It simply didn’t and doesn’t play a role in the Judaism I represent.

 

As opposed to Thanksgiving and even Halloween,  I am often uncomfortable at this time of year because of the emphasis placed on this holiday for whatever reason.  Everything that Christmas is and represents excludes me.  I do not believe that the problem gets solved by relegating Christmas and Santa Claus to Americana.  (I also don’t necessarily think that this time of year is the best time to take on this issue because of how much emotion and tradition is tied to Christmas observances.  Better to take the issue(s) on earlier in the calendar when more rationality can be brought to the discussion.

 

Given what I have just written, I don’t believe that what I am saying in any way indicates paranoia.  Rather, I think that it is an attempt to level the playing field, so to speak.  Christmas, to one extent or another, is forced down my throat each and every year, and if you would like to contrast this with another, wholly other experience, try traveling to Israel at this time of year.  I think you would come to appreciate just how we non-Christians must contend with something that is other to what we are; for, in Israel, there is virtually no mention of Christmas or Santa Claus.  I personally found that to be a great relief from what we go through here in America.

 

Respectfully,

(name withheld)


Hi Again, (name withheld)

 

You might wish to read through this short email.  It underscores some of the points I just made to you in my email.

 

Rabbi (name withheld)

 

Subject: The December Dilemma: Inclusive Schools Warm Up the Holidays

 

Three resources to make sure students feel welcome in the classroom

View email in browser
Dear (name withheld),

The December holiday season is a time when public school children of minority faiths can feel like outsiders. Acknowledging the season without excluding those children is a yearly challenge for schools and teachers.

It’s called the December Dilemma.

To help create welcoming environments for all, we recently shared the following ADL resources with educators across the country. We hope that you will find these helpful for the students in your lives.

ADL stands up for people facing exclusion, discrimination or bigotry for who they are, and we are grateful to the ADL community for upholding religious freedom and securing equality and fair treatment for all.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Thank you,
Vice President, Civil Rights
ADL
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G-D BLESS AMERICA, THE CONSTITUTION, AND THE FOUNDING FATHERS!!!

 


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

On Dec 7, 2019, at 5:48 PM, Mike  wrote:

Hi (name withheld),

Not sure who your husband is and what was said to him that caused your eye-rolling, I’ll try not to repeat.

Let me just say that the understanding your life experience brought you is not shared by everyone. And “forcing religion” is not the issue. A Santa Claus figure wearing a military

uniform bedecked by a “Christmas Force” patch and carrying a sign saying God Bless America may be an innocuous, pleasant or even jocular sight for some, but when

you choose to think of it as something that “glues us all together” I think you’re making an erroneous assumption. With all due respect, I think it’s an arrogant assumption.

Lots of people with all kinds of belief systems are in our military, and the casual assumption that what that picture presents is happily appreciated by all is a mistake. Our point
is not anti-Christian and it is not anti-military, it anti-presumption and anti-thoughtlessness. On government grounds, in government-approved situations where people of any and
all belief systems are likely to be present or pass through, let’s not be presumptuous or thoughtless. Let’s not be causally, if unintentionally, arrogant.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

 

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