Admit it. It is bad timing, these two very unique festivals of two very different faiths colliding in time and space. Even when our Hebraic lunar calendar separates the two by a week or so, the commercial heralding of both in our consumer-focused society continually blends the two, as if Chanukah were some Jewish version of Christmas.
It is too early to tell what will emerge from talks among the new diplomatic triumvirate composed of the United States, Russia and Iran. But one thing is for certain: Even the worst of all agreements is far superior to the current situation.
It is quite something to read Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion dean Joshua Holo’s caricature Dennis Prager as reckless, heedless, gratuitously hostile and a provocateur “painting in broad strokes of facile caricature” (Letters, Dec. 21), when that is precisely what he, not Prager, does.
A Tunisian minister in charge of emigres wished a Merry Christmas to the country’s Jews.
In his yearly Christmas greeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not tolerate attacks on places of Christian worship. "Israel is proud of its record of religious tolerance and pluralism, and Israel will continue to protect freedom of religion for all. And we will continue to safeguard places of Christian worship throughout our country. We will not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship. This is not our way, and this is something we cannot accept," Netanyahu said in his message released on Monday, Christmas Eve.
Santa Claus hands his bell to five year old Ryuya Ando, who energetically shakes it. Ando’s parents, United Nations employees from Japan, get in line for a Christmas tree.
In his Christmas address to Vatican officials, Pope Benedict reportedly praised an essay by France’s chief rabbi on the negative effects of gay marriage.
Whether it’s dressing up as Santa Claus and posing for photographs with low-income kids or serving turkey and ham to the homeless, many Jews volunteer to break out of their element at this time of year in order to bring Christmas joy to families in need.
Winding up and down the rows of Arizona brush trees, Jason Heeney sees slim pickings for Christmas.
Bar Refaeli is getting heat again -- this time for a picture showing the Israeli model in a Santa suit.
December always brings a torrent of Christmas-themed recordings by musical artists of all stripes. If you’re at all serious about longevity in a recording career, you record an album of holiday music — the sooner, the better.
When musician Ken Elkinson began receiving kudos for his Christmas album, he knew it was time to return to his roots.
From Kung Pao kosher comedy to a swinging Mardi Gras version of the “Dreidel” song, two new Chanukah season releases explore the intriguing, delightful and sometimes perplexing ways in which American Jews have responded to Christmas.
The Santa Monica City Council has banned all future nativity, anti-nativity and Chanukah displays at the oceanfront Palisades Park. The 5-0 vote on June 12 ends a nearly 60-year winter tradition.
Every year around Christmas and Chanukah time, writers, commentators, pundits and many rabbis, priests and ministers exhort Americans against spending money on things. We are too materialistic, we are told every year. Happiness, not to mention a meaningful life, depends on our having non-material things, not material things.
Sitting in front of the television eating Chinese food and watching reruns of “It’s A Wonderful Life” isn’t exactly what young Jews are doing this Christmas Eve.
I got a cute e-mail the other day, with a photo of a hand-lettered sign: “The Chinese Rest. Assoc. of the United States would like to extend our thanks to The Jewish People/ we do not completely understand your dietary customs . . ./ But we are proud and grateful that your GOD insist you eat our food on Christmas.” Followed on the bottom, left to right, by a yin/yang symbol, the words Happy Holidays!, and a Star of David.
Parties and celebrations during the holiday week.
Christian Palestinian residents of the West Bank will be allowed to enter Israel, including overnight, for Christmas.
As quietly as rising challah, Jews prepare for Christmas. Slipping a favorite DVD into the player, then popping open a take-out carton or two of Kung Pao something, we make ready for a quiet December’s eve. But before you get shluffy from all that MSG, let me recommend a film to consider for a Christmas Eve from my personal collection of imaginary films. It's called “When Malka Meets Santa.”
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov on Monday extended an official invitation to the 33 Chilean miners who were rescued last week to experience a "spiritual journey" this Christmas in the Holy Land.
" . . . I am so proud of Rob Eshman. His condemnation of Bernard Madoff flies in the faces of those many Jews who believe in the lunacy that Jews can do no wrong . . . "
Relax -- it's comedy
In this crazy world, everyone can use some Christmas cheer, and let's face it, whether enjoying a gingersnap latte or a warm smile from a perfect stranger, we all benefit in one way or another.
It's not that I have Christmas envy -- I don't celebrate Christmas,and I love, honor and embrace Jewish holiday traditions -- but there's just something about those Christmas carols that gets to me.
When I looked around I saw a packed, spiritually moved house of Jews, many who looked a lot like me: Chuck Taylor sneakers, thick plastic glasses, the curly hair that always has reminded me of my family's story.
A sad tale of a lonely Jewish boy on Christmas
He saved a stub from Dec. 24.
I know this because I saw it on his desk.
After we'd broken up; when we shouldn't have been talking, and when I certainly shouldn't have been in his home.
A seemingly benign U.S. congressional resolution supporting Christmas has become the latest fodder in the debate over whether America is a "Christian nation."
Nearly all the members of the House of Representatives, including a majority of Jewish members, voted for the Dec. 11 resolution acknowledging the celebration of Christmas and the role Christians have played in U.S. history.
With Chanukah recent history, I came across a fascinating review of a new book, "The Business of Holidays." The book's editor, Maud Lavin, notes that 81 percent of U.S. households celebrate Christmas with a tree in their homes, and not everybody is Christian. The line between Christmas and Chanukah has become very blurry in recent years, according to Lavin.
Last year we moved into a home large enough to build the sukkah we've been dreaming of for a long time.
Occasionally, as I light a candle on the menorah on a dark December night, I think about my former Christmas dishes and the woman who bought them. I imagine that she lovingly sets them on her table, as she prepares her Christmas dinner, and I smile.
The received wisdom for Jewish parents is not to dilute, pollute or mix traditions. Christmas is such a joy bully, if you let any of it in the door, Chanukah will be blown out the window. But just as Republicans don't own family values, Christians haven't appropriated winter gladness and glitter.
"The MeshugaNutcracker!" tells the tale of eight citizens of Chelm, the mythical shtetl of fools, who gather every year to perform at their Chanukah festival. Through the course of the two-act musical, each tells a story of Chanukah heroes from the time of the Maccabees through today.
We sat at my sister-in-law's kitchen table, 11 of us from three generations of my husband's family, absorbed by a wicked game of dreidel on the fifth night of Chanukah, howling with abandon and anticipation at each seemingly endless spin. My 10-year-old daughter, the youngest present, was killing us all, amassing huge quantities of chocolate gold.
The current schedule was adopted by Orthodox schools in the last two decades, when the Orthodox community made a collective decision to follow a halachic ruling by the great contemporary sage, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, according to Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, dean of Valley Torah High School in Valley Village and president of the Bureau of Jewish Education's Yeshiva Principal's Council.
Last year's big holiday debate was whether the Jews had ruined Christmas. This year, with erev Chanukah coinciding with Christmas Day, people have begun asking how we can save it.
On Dec. 25, Rod Shapiro and Pat Wong will exchange Christmas and Chanukah gifts spread under a seven-foot Christmas tree. They will listen to carols sung by Johnny Mathis and Chanukah songs by the Klezmatics.
The sound of angry Christians railing against the marginalization of Christmas has become the new tune of this holiday season. Across the country, from department stores to town halls, battle lines have been drawn over how to mark the winter holidays.
When I light the first Chanukah candle this year on Dec. 25, the mid-winter moon will be waning. Every night, as I add candles to the menorah, the night sky will be darker until, on the last night when we put our chanukiah in the living room window with all nine candles burning, there will be the first small sliver of moon to meet us.
This year, traditional Christmas Day volunteering is being spread out across December. The shul's ATID young adult leadership group's annual Dec. 25 Mitzvah Day is being merged with templewide volunteering on Dec. 18, the formal start of Sinai's yearlong centennial anniversary.
One thing that stands out is this: Hollywood is making Westerns again, but this time, the Indians are Arab.
I'm not talking about the early Hollywood Indian -- a cartoon bad guy or buffoon who spoke pigeon English and was played by a white guy.
I was sitting in a fast-food joint last week when they piped in a pop-salsa version of "Jingle Bells." If it had been Eddie Palmieri or Ray Barretto, I would have been fine, but this sounded like Menudo on crystal meth, and I decided I'd had enough Christmas music for the next millennium.
This is not your grandmother's Jewish music. Like other recent Jewish parody CDs, "Meshugeneh Mambo" carries on the tradition of Jewish humor popularized by such forbearers as Mickey Katz and Allan Sherman.