A Jew at Christmas



Lisa Cochran, Co-Editor In Chief

As all of the Christian children lay snugly in their beds, they anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus carrying presents for all! Well, except for the Jewish kids.

Many Americans, in fact 6.6 million of them, celebrate Jewish holidays.  In a country that targets consumers during the holidays and uses Christmas as a means for commercial gain, there is often question as to how Jewish people feel during Christmas time.

“It’s crazy how many people get presents, It’s capitalism showing itself.” Jewish senior Neta Friedberg said. Despite this comment however, Neta and other Jewish students typically don’t feel left out as their Christian peers galavant through the Christian Wonderland that envelopes December.

Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday, falls at approximately the same time as Christmas. Jews are typically involved in their own holiday traditions such as the lighting of the Menorah or the feasting of jelly donuts and latkes (potato pancakes).

However, according to junior Adelina Tuchin, Hanukkah is not as big of a deal as Christmas is to many Americans. Hanukkah is said to not be an immensely intense holiday and not even in the top tenth ranking of importance when it comes to Jewish holidays. Friedberg also claims to feel less pressure from her peers when purchasing Christmas presents.

When it comes to Christmas day, Jewish traditions- much like Christmas traditions- tend to vary. Mitchell Shulman, a junior, partakes in what he calls “Jewish Christmas” where his family sees a movie and then proceeds to eat a hefty amount of Chinese food.

Tuchin and Friedberg, however, merely stay at home and enjoy the leisurely company of their families. For the most part, Shulman, Friedberg, and Adelina embrace their religious holidays and have little desire to celebrate Christmas.

Yet, Tuchin laments that there are times when she is invited to Christmas parties that she wishes she had more knowledge about the holiday. Neta claims that less pressure is put on her by her peers to purchase Christmas presents for them.

However, not all Jews are as comfortable with the idea of Christmas as Shulman, Tuchin, and Friedberg are. On commenting about her childhood as someone who was raised in  Jewish family, Linda K. Wertheimer of the New York Times wrote, “Christmas put me on edge, making me feel even more different and angry. “

Comedian Sarah Silverman also composed a song and music video, entitled “Give the Jew Girl Toys” which satirized Christian Christmas traditions and brushed on her desire to receive Christmas presents as a child.

While accommodating other religious holidays through terms of media is not necessarily our country’s forté, most Christians at Ames High are accepting of Jewish people and people of all religions.

Neither Shulman, Tuchin, or Friedberg claim to face discrimination from their peers for celebrating Hanukkah. When we go through our own endeavors and ventures through the holiday season, it is important to consider all religions and all traditions.

The beauty of the holidays and  Earth in general is that we are blessed with a fantastic mixing of religions and cultures alike, and as humans, this should be celebrated.