For Jews, Xmas is not simple and it is not avoidable. The sights (lights, shoppers, commercials) and sounds (Xmas elevator music, Salvation Army bells) are everywhere. It makes many of us feel uncomfortable, left out, and unseen. Some of us feel jealous (Xmas people when they shop just seem so happy and generous!). Some get angry. And everyone comes up with some way to deal – some minhag (custom) that allows them to carve out their own space within the holiday cheer that is not theirs. Some groups rip all the toilet paper they will need for a year’s worth of Shabbats on that day. Many Jews refuse to call the holiday by its full name, using aphorisms like Xmas or Kretchmeir. Some people even refuse to learn Torah on that day. These may sound funny or xenophobic, but they should be honored as ways in which a tiny minority salves itself when it feels overcome by the cultural onslaught of Xmas cheer.
From the earliest age, I always knew that Jews eat Chinese and go bowling on Xmas. This was our family’s minhag, and, it turns out, many families have this tradition. It is part practical (Chinese restaurants tend to be open, as opposed to Wendy’s or TGI Fridays), part ironic, part identification with other minorities (Chinese, people who go bowling), part unifying (all Jews get it – it is a part of our culture and no one else’s).
So why should this year be different from other years? Let’s gather up, eat homemade, kosher Chinese food in a warm and joyous environment with good people. And let’s also talk about how it feels to be Jewish at Xmas time. We will spend some time learning from people in the Torah who had to function as a minority in a large non-Jewish culture, and actually found a way to thrive.
Friday, December 25th, services at 4:30 pm, dinner at 5:45. Everyone is welcome. Aish Kodesh members $10/adult $5/kid, new faces come free. Please RSVP by contacting Mitten at ExecutiveDirector@BoulderAishKodesh.org