Jews & Christmas
What attitudes toward Christmas tell us about modern Jewish identity.
Some Jews have chosen to adopt the Yuletide festivities. Some have emphatically rejected the rituals and symbols of Christmas. Still others have sought ways to meld Christmas and Hanukkah. Christmas, in effect, has become a prism through which Jews can view how living in this land of freedom has shaped our religion, culture, and identity.
For centuries, the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe feared Christmas-time. At any other time, pious Jews would be studying Torah in the synagogue, but not on Christmas. Wary of being attacked in the street, they took refuge in their homes, playing cards or chess with their families.
The story was different in Western Europe, where, for the Jewish elite, holiday symbols–such as the Christmas tree–signified secular inclusion in society. Affluent German Jews often posed for portraits with…
View original post 231 more words