Letter week of Dec. 24, 2009

Far From a Celebration; In Fact, It's a Tragedy!

Upon receipt of my Dec. 17 issue of the Jewish Exponent, I noted the photo on the cover: a family playing dreidel in front of their Christmas tree.

I have no qualms with describing the dilemma faced by the Jewish people today: that a large proportion of Jews are part of interfaith marriages. But for a Jewish newspaper to put a Christmas tree on the front page is offensive. The placement and publication of this photo feels as though we celebrate this dilemma.

This is not a celebration; this is a tragedy for the Jewish people. It is a hurtful reminder of how our people, our history and our tradition are being diluted through intermarriage.

Twenty-five years ago, this photo would not have appeared in any Jewish paper. I shudder to think what will be in it 25 years from now.

Rabbi Ira Budow
Abrams Hebrew Academy

Cover Image Dilutes the Beauty of Chanukah

How disgraceful and shameful that a periodical calling itself the Jewish Exponent can find no better story to bring out the essence and beauty of Chanukah than to dilute it with a story of a household celebrating Hanukamas! (Cover story: "A Merry Little Chanukah?" Dec. 17).

Where is your Jewish pride in deciding which stories to run in your periodical?

Bernard Weill
Brooklyn, N.Y.

This Picture Speaks Louder Than Any Words

Christmas trees are beautiful objects of religious significance that celebrate the birth of the Christian savior. They have no place on the cover of a Jewish community newspaper (Cover story: "A Merry Little Chanukah?" Dec. 17).

Those Jewish and interfaith families who choose to have both a Christmas tree and a chanukiah have a right to exercise their own personal options, but to advertise this as an option on the front page of the Jewish Exponent does little to promote pride in Jewish ritual observance.

The editors are either intent on raising the ire and disrespect of those in the Jewish community who treasure their heritage and its rituals, or are oblivious to the fact that this type of photo helps erode Jewish values inch by inch.

I would not be surprised to see a Passover edition featuring a seder plate with an Easter egg and a ham bone.

Brenda Goldblatt
Huntingdon Valley

Separate, but Equal, Seems the Way to Go

Thank you for covering our December holidays survey in "A Merry Little Chanukah?" (Dec. 17). Your cover story captured very well how interfaith families raising Jewish children deal with the holidays.

The Kesack family belongs to a synagogue; the parents are clear that the children are Jewish; they go to religious school; and the oldest child became Bat Mitzvah. It is insulting to them for Steven Bayme to imply that their Christmas tree suggests a "thin" Jewish identity in their home.

I do want to point out that there is a difference between celebrating both holidays and blending them. Our survey found that while a high percentage of interfaith families who are raising their children as Jews do participate in Christmas celebrations, 89 percent said they would keep their holiday celebrations separate or mostly separate, as opposed to blending them together.

Edmund C. Case
CEO, InterfaithFamily.com
Newton, Mass.

Group Offers Thanks, With a Little Adjustment

We very much enjoyed "Light the Way" by Melissa Jacobs (Chanukah Gift Guide, Nov. 25) and appreciate being included in this article.

There was, however, an error in the description of our program. AMIT does not have 23 schools in Israel. Rather, we have schools in 23 Israeli cities, development towns and other communities.

AMIT is, in fact, a network of more than 75 schools, youth villages, junior colleges and other programs throughout Israel, serving more than 20,000 students from kindergarten through post high school.

Barbara Goldberg
Director of communications AMIT
New York, N.Y.


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