Growing up in the Reform community in the US in the 50s and 60s, I remember the constant discussions of the Chanukah-Christmas dilemma. Was it possible to disengage Chanukah from the seasonal linkage to Christmas, and keep it somehow true to its roots? Or was it doomed to be "the Jewish answer to Christmas," which increasingly meant an orgy of shopping and materialism?
When I first heard the term “Thanksgivukkah”—the convergence of Chanukah and Thanksgiving—and that it was happening this year, I must admit that I became a little anxious because it brought back some of my interfaith marriage insecurities that I thought were long gone.
In Parashat Emor, the Torah reports that a man born of mixed Israelite-Egyptian descent “blasphemed the Name [of God],” was placed on trial, and was stoned to death. A law was then enacted that anyone, Jewish or gentile, who blasphemes the name of God shall be put to death. Over time, in communities throughout the world, laws against blasphemy were put in place to address curses leveled at God as well as perceived slights against some religions.
I am, and have always been, Jewish, but I was raised in a household with a father who was secularly Christian. We “celebrated” Christmas and Easter, but never went to church. We put up a tree but did not speak of Jesus. We colored eggs but did not discuss resurrections.
Eileh Azkara (These I Remember) is the lament that recounts the martyrdom of ten rabbis during the Roman brutality of 2000 years ago.