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Christmas and Hanukkah

December 19, 1985

Christmas is a difficult time for intermarried couples of Jewish and Christian faiths. But to imply that celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas solves the dilemma is highly questionable if not harmful.

First, such a practice perpetuates the erroneous connection between those two unrelated holidays. It is like saying Veterans Day and Thanksgiving are somehow connected because they fall in the same month. What similarities do exist, such as exchanging gifts, result from concessions by many American Jews to the surrounding Christian culture. They seek to imitate Christmas, but with the Christmas being a major holiday and Hanukkah a minor one, the imitation will always pale.

Second, those Jews who actually celebrate the Christian holiday cannot help but corrupt the meaning of Hanukkah (which) commemorates the successful Jewish revolt against forced assimilation by the ruling culture. Jews who celebrate Christmas are thus saying the revolt and fight for Jewish freedom of identity were in vain. Assimilation is alive and well--and voluntary.

As a committed Jewish couple, we know that a home filled with knowledge and love of one's rich heritage guarantees there will be no "December dilemma." Obviously, intermarried couples do not have it as easy, but we hope they will make a choice one way or the other rather than have a diluted piece of both.

AL FARRELL

DEVORA SALOVEY

Los Angeles

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