Synopses & Reviews
Christmas is not everybodyandrsquo;s favorite holiday. Historically, Jews in America, whether participating in or refraining from recognizing Christmas, have devised a multitude of unique strategies to respond to the holiday season. Their response is a mixed one: do we participate, try to ignore the holiday entirely, or create our own traditions and make the season an enjoyable time? This book, the first on the subject of Jews and Christmas in the United States, portrays how Jews are shaping the public and private character of Christmas by transforming December into a joyous holiday season belonging to all Americans.
Creative and innovative in approaching the holiday season, these responses range from composing Americaandrsquo;s most beloved Christmas songs, transforming Hanukkah into the Jewish Christmas, creating a national Jewish tradition of patronizing Chinese restaurants and comedy shows on Christmas Eve, volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens on Christmas Day, dressing up as Santa Claus to spread good cheer, campaigning to institute Hanukkah postal stamps, and blending holiday traditions into an interfaith hybrid celebration called andldquo;Chrismukkahandrdquo; or creating a secularized holiday such as Festivus.
Through these venerated traditions and alternative Christmastime rituals, Jews publicly assert and proudly proclaim their Jewish and American identities to fashion a universally shared message of joy and hope for the holiday season.
See also: http://www.akosherchristmas.org
"A Kosher Christmas is a richly amusing, well-researched present to American Jews, allowing them to wear their new cashmere sweaters to Chinese restaurants on Christmas day without being racked by religious guilt." Jewish Book World
andquot;With humor and insight Rabbi Joshua Plaut, Ph.D. recounts the meaning of Christmas to American Jews. This 'only in America' account should be read by Jews and non-Jews alike but especially by those of us who have always felt a little bit guilty for enjoying Christmas.andquot;
andquot;Christmas is our only national holiday founded on religious beliefs, and Plaut, a rabbi and Jewish studies scholar, describes the multitude of creative rituals, activities, and responses Jews have developed to counteract feelings of marginalization and 'transform Christmastime into a holiday season belonging to all Americans.' Plaut offers a quirky, provocative, yet solid study of contemporary Jewish behavior and emerging new forms of popular culture.andquot;
andquot;Fascinating. Plaut means so well and covers so much ground. After 207 pages, I am a Hanukkah maven. Ask me anything.andquot;
andquot;This book is a clever look at the dilemmas presented to us at Christmas, whether in fact we are Jews or not. Many readers will be likely to enjoy it.andquot;
andquot;Hanukkah, a once-obscure Jewish festival thatandmdash;conveniently falling in Decemberandmdash;has been built up to become a response to the 'December dilemma', the puzzle posed for non-Christians by Christmas. The dilemma is no more, suggests Rabbi Plaut. December now features traditions that are both distinctively American and inventively Jewish. And one last Jewish Christmas customandmdash;volunteering to work or help the needy so that Christian neighbours can enjoy the holidayandmdash;trumps the rest, distilling the essence of the season.andquot;
andquot;In this short, informative and illuminating book, Plaut traces not only the changing attitude of American Jews
to Christmas but the holidayandrsquo;s symbiotic influence on Hanukkah as well.andquot;
andquot;A Kosher Christmas is a unique observation of American Jewry and the ambivalence Jews face as we simultaneously try to integrate ourselves into American culture, while helping to shape aspects of it at the same time.andquot;
andmdash;full of entertaining and intriguing anecdotes and tales of Jews reconciling their traditions and values with the pervasiveness of Christmas cultureandmdash;is a fast-paced read that anyone who grew up around holiday celebrations of all stripes will enjoy.andquot;
"Providing more than a Jewish cultural history, Plaut opens discussion on the way that the US Jewish response to Christmas, which he calls culturally unique, paved the way for the identity politics of other minorities to be expressed in the all-important December holiday season. Recommended."
Jerusalem Post Magazine
A Kosher Christmas portrays how Jews are shaping the public and private character of Christmas by transforming December into a joyous holiday season belonging to all Americans through unique and innovative responses, including transforming Hanukkah into the Jewish Christmas; creating a national Jewish tradition of patronizing Chinese restaurants and comedy shows on Christmas Eve; volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens on Christmas Day; and blending holiday traditions into an interfaith hybrid celebration of andldquo;Chrismukkah.andrdquo;
Table of Contents
Foreword by Jonathan D. Sarna
Introduction: Coping with Christmas:and#160;A Multitude of Jewish Responses
1. Coming to the New World: Can the American Jew Keep Christmas?
2. Hanaukkah Comes of