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A Jewish Artist Offers Her Perspective On Christmas And Hanukkah
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December 27, 2009, 04:00 AM
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12/23/09 - A War Against Christmas Winner Reports A Victory (Sort Of) In California

From: Jane Trigere (e-mail her)

Re: Tom Piatak`s Column: War Against Christmas 2009: Reflections On Christmas, Hanukkah And "Nitel Night"

Although I enjoyed Piatak`s article, what I didn`t find anywhere is my position: How does one withstand the overwhelming emphasis of someone else`s holiday? 

Christmas is everywhere and filled with glitter. The hard sell from commercial establishments is obvious, but also movie theaters, streetscapes, hotel lobbies and corporate buildings. 

It`s so...too much. If I were a devout Christian, I would hate it too. I would feel that my religious story has been co-opted.

Last week my local women`s club asked me to explain Hanukkah. They were really surprised to hear that it was a minor Jewish holiday, that it celebrated a battle and had little religious significance. 

Lighting a candle on the darkest nights of the year is not any more Jewish than Christian. It is also Pagan and universal.  

I sang my club the blessings and a pretty song they had never heard before that has nothing to do with dreidels. I told them that Hanukkah is not mentioned in our sacred texts and commentaries except for the Talmud oil story. They were surprised... really. They had no idea that the battle is mentioned in the Apochrypha.

I described six other holidays, five of which are significant. Some they had heard of but most they had not.

I asked them to think what it would be like to celebrate Christmas alone in a country that had no idea what the holiday is. No jingles in the supermarket, no toys on display, no fake gift boxes decorating entryways...nothing.  And here is the clincher: How do you teach that to your children, and grandchildren, and make them feel good about their own religious practices and themselves when no one around knows what they are talking about?

I give my children, and now grandchildren, gifts during other holidays just because. I now am pressed by Jewish peers to also succumb to gifts on Hanukkah. 

Group pressure is hard when one is trying to raise children. I managed to turn the television off during most of their childhoods!

I find it offensive when people insist I am too difficult or right wing when I show no interest in celebrating secular Christmas. 

What is it after all? Don`t tell me it doesn`t derive from real Christmas. The devote Christian deserves to not have his holiday turned into a nothingness of tinsel. And I deserve to be respected and to be encouraged to follow my religious and cultural traditions.

So although Piatak wrote his article for VDARE.COM, he could easily send it elsewhere.

The battle between Judaism and Hellenism still exists. And assimilation is a double-edged sword.

Trigere, an artist, lives in Massachusetts. Her website is here.