Help Jewish people discover the real meaning of Christmas.
When you think about it, isn’t it ironic that Jewish people think, Christmas isn’t for us? As I grew up in traditional Judaism, we observed Hanukkah, a celebration of Jewish survival against oppressors. And Christmas was just an American cultural festivity without a spiritual message.
Lots of Jewish people like the holiday trimmings, lights, and music. It might seem off, but a Top Ten List of All-Time Favorite Christmas Songs could feature just Jewish artists. The theme song and seasonal favorite White Christmas was composed by Irving Berlin. And The Christmas Song, which evokes “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” seems to be a required holiday tune in every shopping mall. That one was composed by Bob Wells (born Levenson) and Mel Tormé. And for all the trivia experts, The Christmas Waltz was a creation of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.
You would think Christmas really is a Jewish holiday.
Some of the best-loved Christmas hymns feature Jewish connections that emerge like candied morsels in fruitcake. O Little Town of Bethlehem was set in King David’s village, located in the Judean Hills of Israel. And O Come, O Come Immanuel inspires worshippers to “Rejoice! Rejoice!” because “Immanuel”—God who is with us—“shall come to you, O Israel.”
Beyond those familiar expressions of Christmas traditions is a message of biblical proportions, rooted in Jewish history and promised hope. Christmas ought to be a Jewish holiday, because it greets the birth of a Jewish baby from a Jewish mother in a Judean village.
God fulfilled his prophetic promise to little Bethlehem, “from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth …