Thanks for this piece, Rabbi Steinmetz: it helps to put the holiday in context. I had to smile when I read your reference to singing hymns in public schools: I was one of those children who sang the songs with relish, always remaining silent when the name of Jesus came up. One day I confessed this to my mother, who reassured me that it was not sinful to mention his name. This was when I learned that Christ was a Jew and that what separated us from Christians was simply that we did not accept him as the Messiah.... My life as a Jew in the North American Diaspora has confirmed for me that while we must always be vigilant about anti-semitism, including its modern manifestation as anti-Zionism, there is much reason to be optimistic about our relations with the Christian world. And today, while my Jewish identity is ever stronger, I allow myself to sing along to favorite Christmas carols whenever the mood strikes me!
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