With Thanksgiving just behind us we know that Chanukah is soon upon us. Chanukah will begin this year on the 8th of December, next Saturday night. During this holiday season, many people get bent out of shape by holiday decorations, Christmas displays and the separation of church and state.
Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, Director of NJOP, explains that he is in favor of a separation between church and state but he is not an absolutist on the subject. He believes that we should be more flexible and understanding of peoples' practices. As a boy, his father, who was born in Europe, used to take him and his sister to see the Christmas decorations, even though they were observant Jews. The entire family had a wonderful time. They didn't die. They didn't convert to other religions.
His American mother explained to them how in public school they would have the students sing Christmas Carols. This was obviously bringing religion into the schools. But, he reminds us again that we do not need to be so absolute. It's a nice opportunity to see how other people celebrate the holidays and be tolerant of their celebrations. We also need to feel strongly about our own holiday, Chanukah, and have our own strong Jewish identity. One way to achieve that is to respect others.