“Santa Claus has nothing to do with it,” the Latke said, “Christmas and Hanukkah are completely different things.”
“But different things can often blend together,” said the pine tree, “Let me tell you a funny story about pagan rituals.”
— Lemony Snicket
It’s Hanukkah for our Jewish neighbors, family and friends. And though clearly a lesser holiday in the Jewish pantheon (nothing like Fall’s High Holy days or Spring’s Passover), Hanukkkah gained importance in historically Christian nations to offer some counterbalance to Christmas for the Jewish kids at school. And an analogous winter gift-giving occasion.
So, let’s make it our Advent exercise today to remember that not everyone is Christian!
And to give thanks for God’s continued love and care for the Jewish community, particularly in the shadow of the Christian Community’s having not lived up to “the good neighbor” rating of Jesus’ Samaritan parable!
As the pine tree chides the Latke… in our day when there’s an appreciation for other faiths, we can acknowledge our borrowing from and debts to the depths of other religions.
On this first day of Hannukah, give thanks for the Jewish people. You can begin the partriarchs and matriarchs and continue along through the prophets. But you should probably get all the way to the Millers you went to school with and the Rosenzweigs down the block.
Oh, and in case you are concerned about all the Hebrew Scriptures dire warnings against syncretism, consider this: our contemporary Christian faith communities are much more threatened by consumerist materialism and mystery-denying rationalism than the synagogue down the block or the Buddhist meditation practices of some of our members!