It’s been that special time of year, the past few weeks, when stores are filled with festive holiday music and clerks are deciding who to wish “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays”. What if the author Tova Mirvis walked into Starbucks tomorrow morning and witnessed baristas wishing other customers Merry Christmas, but not her? Would she feel like she had been a victim of profiling, or would she be relieved that she didn’t have to reply “You too”? Or might her drift toward secularity prompt her to be proactive next year and wish baristas wearing Santa hats a Merry Christmas to make both them and herself less uncomfortable?
It’s the kind of cognitive dissonance Jackie Mason made peace with in advising people not to make too big of a fuss about this, mirrored this year by Jen Simon writing in The Forward.
Surely some Jewish people will feel left out by exchanging neither gifts nor greetings on December 25, as epitomized by Pat Guadagno’s little ditty:
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman stated his case in The Jewish Week for why it’s fine to wish Christians a Merry Christmas, rather than ignoring or avoiding it. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has seemed quite comfortable, and one might say even upbeat, in wishing his country’s Christian citizens as well as Christians around the world a Merry Christmas each year at this time. Here’s a clip from 2011, followed by a video that was circulating today.
Something tells me secular Jews will be having this same conversation next year.