The Times of Israel writes about this year’s convergence of Hanukkah and Christmas. You can read their article here: Is the Jewish Community ready for a very merry interfaith Chrismukkah?
The article raises the very discussion we can imagine took place in Judea in 165 BCE. How much of “not Jewish” — whether Hellenistic culture or interfaith marriage — is too much? How much of “what is not Jewish” endangers “what is”?
These questions are loaded with assumptions — about what it means to be Jewish, about what it means to live with others — assumptions that lean heavily towards exclusivity. And it is these very assumptions that need to be questioned if Judaism is to evolve as a viable source of meaning and purpose and as a resource for wisdom in a global, world culture.
With 28 years in an interfaith marriage, most of my life has been dedicated (I choose that word intentionally) to discerning my relationship with Judaism in light of living in and raising children in a multi-faith society. I won’t go into the story of my ever-evolving struggle, one which perhaps defines my Jewishness more than anything else, but I will share what I’m doing tomorrow.
When Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah, not to mention Havdalah, all coincide tomorrow evening, I will be leading a Home Service for my husband’s extended family.
While his family has religious roots in Presbyterianism and Quakerism, like many American families today they are now an ecumenical bunch. Past and current affiliations within the family include Mormonism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Judaism. My nieces and nephews include agnostics and atheists, believers and seekers, and poets. We gather every year to attend a Christmas Eve Service at a particular Presbyterian Church. But this year that tradition has been foiled by a change in the church schedule.
The situation couldn’t have presented a better opportunity to create a service that speaks to all of us. And I am thrilled that I get to design and lead it. I won’t give it all away here but I can tell you it will be interactive, participatory, multi-sensory, religious, scientific, and philosophical. It will be meaningful and appealing for all ages. (And it will be short-ish.)
But what will make our Family Home Service successful is not the design as much as the openness with which it will be received and the joy with which it will be given. So when The Times of Israel asks if the Jewish Community is ready, I hope the idea of our Family Home Service shines some light on the answer.
Read more about turning December’s Dilemma into December’s Delight here.