by Mark C. Wallfisch

My neighbor Denise told me that a month ago she happened upon an outdoor ceremony downtown for the lighting of a huge Chanukah menorah.  She said she met a rabbi there.

Denise asked the rabbi, “So Chanukah’s the Jewish Christmas, right?” 

The rabbi told Denise that Chanukah celebrates a victory of religious freedom over oppression that happened more than a century before Jesus was born.  The rabbi continued, “Religious freedom means that Jews get to practice their religion and Christians get to practice their religion, too.”

The rabbi added, “Chanukah is a minor holiday for Jews, and Christmas is a major holiday for Christians — it’s where Christianity started.  So, in the spirit of interfaith cooperation, Christians should be inspired by Jews celebrating the religious freedom of Chanukah, and Jews should be inspired by Christians celebrating the birth of their Savior.  The two celebrations should be happily separate.”

Denise told me that she pulled out of her purse a bumper sticker that she gave to the rabbi, who immediately put it on his car.  As the rabbi drove away, Denise whispered, “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel. Dreidel will I play,” as she watched the rabbi’s car drive away with the sticker on its bumper declaring, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”

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