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Home From the Rabbi From the Rabbi - December 2013
From the Rabbi - December 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Dear Friends:

     The coincidence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah late in November eliminated one traditional concern Jews have in this last month of the year.  It’s usually called “The December Dilemma,” and it has to do with the relationship of Hanukkah and Christmas.  Jews often phrase their issues in a number of ways.

     For many families, especially interfaith ones, there is the question of which holiday do we celebrate – or both – and how much of each.  It is not uncommon for such families to have made a decision that one religion or the other will be the dominant one, particularly for their children.  To make such a choice is not easy, but it grounds the children in a secure foundation from which they can then understand and appreciate the religions of both parents.  This option also offers the parents a superb opportunity to teach the American value of diversity.  Frequently, such families observe one religious tradition in their own home, but go to relatives or friends to take part in an alternative faith’s practices.

     A second concern that is widely expressed is that the overwhelming impact of the majority’s Christmas makes Jews feel left-out.  This sentiment offers another teachable moment.  Here’s the chance to talk about America as a patchwork quilt of many different groups, each with its own traditions and a very legitimate sense of pride in its own identity.  Jews are not the only minority group in this country who express similar concerns; they are common among virtually all non-Christian populations.  A Jew who is secure in his/her own identity need not feel excluded from American society; a Jew who is insecure has some work to do!

     A third issue is that of anti-Semitism.  It is more salient around Easter time, but Jews also worry that negative feelings can arise in December.  The history of anti-Semitism in America is one of continual decline in its incidence since 1940.  At that time, the Anti-Defamation League reported that 50% of all Americans had negative views of Jews.  Today, the comparable figure is around 18%.  That’s a major improvement, but it still means that there is an enduring streak of negativity in our population.  Fortunately, very few of these negative folks are interested in taking any action against Jews, and our legal system militates against such occurrences.

     In Corpus Christi, we are very fortunate to have a cadre of neighbors who have their own religious identities, but who also want to collaborate with each other and with us to indicate that all of us share a desire to advance our common civic welfare.  You may remember that we sponsored a concert in 2012 with the whirling dervishes from Turkey to make precisely this point.  Now, we are about to offer a second such concert.  Please mark your calendars for Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM at the Performing Arts Center on the TAMUCC campus.  The free concert will focus on our common striving for freedom and will highlight Ruthie Foster, a wonderful singer from Austin who has been called “the next Aretha Franklin.”  By attending, you will help make a statement that we can work side-by-side with our neighbors to make Corpus Christi a much better community.
    Kenneth D. Roseman, Rabbi


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