Although I usually enjoy reading Dave Peyton’s columns, I do take exception to the one appearing on December 25 on the topic of Christmas. He writes, “Most American Jews will celebrate Christmas today in the middle of Hanukkah,” apparently because Jews “have fallen to the holiday hoopla like most of us.”
Jews do not celebrate Christmas. The two festivals happen to just coincide this year. The Hebrew and Gregorian calendars are not in sync. Hanukkah always starts on the 25th of Kislev. Back in 1975, for example, the first day fell on November 29; in 1991, on December 2, and so on.
The festival dates back to the mid-second century BCE, some six hundred years before Christmas was first celebrated in Rome (fourth century CE) and eleven hundred years before it took its present form in Europe (ninth century CE). Hanukkah celebrates a miracle symbolizing liberation and freedom; Christmas, the birth of the Christian messiah. They have nothing in common.
Also, I found Peyton’s “joke” about little Michael in very poor taste, perpetuating a stereotype of the Jew as a profiteer — here, at the expense of Christians. Probably not terribly amusing to those members of B’Nai Sholom Congregation, in Huntington, who traditionally sub for their Christian brothers and sisters at the reception center of the local hospital on Christmas Day.
I expected better from Mr. Peyton, whom I respect, and usually look forward to reading his insightful columns.