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I heart the Menorahment

I was flying from Chicago to Washington for Thanksgiving last week when out of the corner of my eye I detected, on a page of SkyMall being flipped through in the next seat over, a photo of a Christmas  tree topped by a Star of David. Talk about your revelations!

Somehow, religion-in-public-life maven though I am, I had missed the Menorament phenomenon. It seems the idea occurred to Morri and Marina Chowaiki, a "Jewish-born" couple from Los Angeles, back in 2005, when Morri suggested affixing a six-pointed star to their Christmas tree. They've been selling their patented design on Amazon since 2009, mostly to intermarried Jewish-Christian couples and evangelicals eager to do the Judeo-Christian thing.

Now there are those Jews who take a dim view of the mash-up. The Christmas tree is about, more or less, the birth of Jesus. The Star of David is about Jewish identity. It's got to be traif--unkosher--to shove the one onto the other.

And yet, and yet. As a connoisseur of the Judeo-Christian tradition, I'd say the Menorahment is the perfect counterstroke to all those fuddy-duddies, from Arthur A. Cohen to Shalom Goldman, who insist that those who employ Judeo-Christian terminology are actually subordinating Judaism to Christianity--that the adjectival "Judeo-" somehow signifies that Christianity (the substantive) has superseded its predecessor faith.

So here comes the Menorahment, sitting atop the Christmas tree as a symbol of Jewish supersessionism. Mixed-faith families use it? Great! Evangelical families? Even greater!

Now, if only I were willing to have a Christmas tree in the house.

Topics: Culture

Comments

  1. My wife and I are an intermarried coupled, although we’re both fairly secular in our outlooks. Before we had children we did nothing for the holidays, but when we had children we ended up doing both Chanukah and Christmas. Somewhere alone the way we picked up a set a dreidel Christmas tree lights on it. But as of yet we haven’t purchased a Star of David tree topper. But don’t tell my kids about it because they’ll almost certainly want one.

  2. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating both holidays, whether you’re an interfaith family or not.  I’m not and I love Christmas.  What I have a problem with is diluting both holidays to one amalgamated “holiday.”  Why not have a Christmas tree and a menorah?

  3. Interestingly enough, as a Muslim growing up in Montreal, we always had a Christmas tree in our home and lights that my dad would dutifully hang around the house (and wouldn’t be taken down until well into the spring thaw). Christmas in our home was always a tradition that revolved around family and community. Even as a non-Christian, I would participate in the Christmas mass offered by my school (though of course I wouldn’t partake in the sacrements). I’ve always found Christmas, with the coming together of all these traditions, including Chanukah, to be a really festive time and regardless of creed or calling, we can, I would hope, all agree that the holidays are really all about family. I also think that they should be a time where instead of secluding ourselves in our own traditions we can learn about those of others and also participate in the joy and happiness of those around us.

  4. Golly, I thought Jesus was Jewish in the first place, and when he was born it was a Jewish event all around. He came as it was perceived originally by Jesus to reform Judaism.

    It’s just bad that in between then and now there’s been a whole lot of truly horrible history, some of which truly distorted the whole.

  5. It feels so right to me to use the STAR of David for Christmas and i am one who gave up using a tree in the house many years ago…but the Star, especially that star, sounds GOOD.

  6. When I was a child growing up in a devoutly Christian family, we always had a Star of David atop our Christmas tree.  I always thought that’s the way the star was supposed to be.  I think my parents’ custom was based not so much on any modern interfaith understanding (which, by the way, I’m all in favor of), but on the assumption that the Star of Bethlehem over the birthplace of one who was known as a son of David, must have been the Star of David.  Or, as an old hymn for the season avers, referring to Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24, likely the source of the star imagery in Matthew’s birth narrative, “True spake the prophet from afar, that told the rise of Jacob’s star, and Eastern sages with amaze, upon the wondrous token gaze.”  There’s nothing new under the sun!

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