The Great Chrismukkah Debate
With Sephora Markson Hartz and Jesse Tisch
Editors Jesse Tisch and Sephora Markson Hartz discuss important and trivial Jewish topics.
Jesse Tisch: It’s the 3rd day of Channukah, and here we are talking about...Chrismakkuh.
Sephora Markson Hartz: Ummm...I think it’s Chrismukkah. Such insensitivity!  

JT: You’re right. I’ve already offended at least two groups: Christians and editors. In any event, bring our readers up to speed: What is the kerfluffle over this impossible-to-spell, made-up holiday?

SMH: Back on December 14, Jordana Horn a writer for Kveller wrote a piece with the following, rather telling title: “Actually, You Can’t Celebrate Hanukkah AND Christmas.” But, like the spelling of Chanukah/Channukah/Hanukkah itself, there are many who contend that you can celebrate any way you choose.

JT: But the writer was not Pro-Choice?

SMH: No, she wasn’t, but the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice debate is a good analogy. And, in this case, Jordana is definitely Pro-Life.

JT: Meaning?

SMH: Meaning this girl is down with the Maccabees like nobody’s business. Here’s a direct quote: “The Maccabees would rather die than observe any religion other than their own...When we light the hanukkiah, we do it in our windows, to show the world that we are proud to be Jewish and nothing else.”

JT: Whoa. Strong words.

SMH: The problem is that there’s quite a lot of people out there who are Jewish and something else. It’s not a matter of taste, or religion. It’s a matter of heritage and culture.

JT: And so what did the multi-faith commenters have to say?

SMH: One especially reasonable and persuasive response came from Paul Golin in Tablet. He’s Jewish, his wife is Japanese. She’s not Christian, but she did grow up with a Christmas tree, and yearns for one every year. But Golin stands firm: Not in his house.

JT: Wait. I thought you were firmly in the Pro-Choice camp. But it sounds like you’re defending Mr. Golin’s draconian anti-tree policy. By the way, whatever happened to Festivus?

SMH: As usual, jumping in before I finish. Had you allowed me, you would have learned what I’ll tell you now: Mr. Golin doesn’t want one, but he still believes that having a tree is a matter of choice (there’s that word again). Another quote: “...[humans] appoint significances based on their own needs, interests, and complex familial relationships.” (Take that, Jordana.)

So, yes, I’m defending Mr. Golin. But not for the reasons you supposed.

JT: Maybe we should just be glad we’re not invited to the Golin holiday party.

SMH: What is that supposed to mean?

JT: It sounds like they have some issues. If a couple fights over deciduous trees, one can only assume that there isn’t total peace in the homestead.

SMH: It doesn’t sound like they fight, necessarily. Just that they come from different backgrounds. “All marriages,” he writes, “require give-and-take, and this is one time where she’s giving and I’m taking.” Yeah, it seems a little harsh. But, from my experience, it’s also true.

JT: And on that note...

SMH: What can I say. Decide for yourself. It won’t bother me. I’m Pro-Choice, too.
Image credit: Yaffa/ Wikimedia Commons

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