MembersWhy Theodore Herzl Had a Christmas Tree

The holiday season may be a time of joy and happiness for Christians, but for Jews, Christmas constitutes a major December Dilemma

By Rachel Avraham | | Topics: Christmas
An elderly Jewish gentleman sells Christmas trees to Christians.
An elderly Jewish gentleman sells Christmas trees to Christians. Photo: Flash90

Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut of the Metropolitan Synagogue in Manhattan discusses how the American Jewish community has related to and coped with Christmas from the 1800’s till the present in A Kosher Christmas: Tis the Season to be Jewish.

Plaut notes that it is not uncommon for Jews to partake in Christmas activities:

“As a young boy growing up in Long Island, New York in the early 1960’s, my mother took me to sit on Santa’s lap at Gertz Department Store. Inevitably, Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I felt compelled to explain that I celebrated Hanukkah. Santa still gave me a candy cane. Visiting Santa at the shopping mall might not be unusual for most Americans, but it was out of place and strange for a Jewish child whose father was a well-respected rabbi and civil rights activist in Great Neck, New York.

“Years later, I asked my mother why she took me to sit on Santa’s lap when we did not celebrate Christmas. She responded that she...

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