My friend Laurel Snyder, editor of “Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes” and author of numerous children’s books, has a thoughtful piece out this week on Killing The Buddha about intermarriage, divorce and the Reyes case.
Laurel who, like me, has divorced parents and is herself intermarried, explores a lot of the same issues I’ve been thinking about (some elaborated on a column to be published in next week’s Jewish Week), vis a vis how interfaith issues play out when marriages implode. In emphasizing how she advises interfaith couples to discuss their differences before they become problems, she writes
Episode generally avoids Israeli-Palestinian conflict
First, Krusty the Clown intermarried. Now, Homer Simpson, in Jerusalem on the animated family’s first trip to Israel, thinks he’s the Messiah.
In its more than 20 years on the air, “The Simpsons” has had countless Jewish moments and references, such as when Homer expresses shock that Mel Brooks is Jewish, a Springfield department store advertises “Christmas gifts at Hannukah prices” and the numerous adventures of Krusty, whose father Hyman is an Orthodox rabbi.
Old murder case solved; Orthodox Jewish reaction unresolved.
Long after a murder leaves the front page, it lingers in a kitchen grown quiet, or when dialing a phone forever unanswered, when private jokes stay private, and you say “all right” when people ask, but your seders aren’t the same, and Christmas isn’t Christmas, for mourners all share the same pew in pre-dawn sleeplessness.
No tinsel, no Santa, no carols, no nog. Some Jews feel they're missing out on the fun of Christmastime. Sure, there are alternatives like Chinese-food-and-a-movie or Matzah Ball dances - the ethnic equivalent of artificial snow. These activities capture the season's festive mood without drawing on its Christian origins.
It’s common wisdom that the best comedy is essentially serious. Of course, clichés often have an underlying truth, so maybe that explains why Rob Tannenbaum, one half of the comedy-music duo Good for the Jews playing at the Highline Ball Room on Dec. 23, is both a very funny guy and yet someone who discusses his work in surprisingly sober terms.
Not surprisingly, as the economic downturn drags on, there is much communal discussion about the need for more and more funding to keep our most precious institutions and programs intact, from the federation system to Birthright Israel to day schools.
My wife and I arrived in Israel last night for a stay of about ten days. The visit incorporates the opportunity for the unveiling of my late mother’s tombstone, and also some sorely needed R and R. Only a few minutes ago, my wife checked her e-mail and saw that someone on our synagogue listserv had asked what Christmas was like in Israel.
The short answer is- you wouldn’t know it’s Christmas.
Last week I wrote about how (outside of Bethlehem, Nazareth, etc. of course), Christmas was basically invisible here in Israel, where I am visiting. New Year’s Eve celebrations are a bit different. In Tel-Aviv, there were parties and celebrations long into the night. In Jerusalem, where I am, other than the American kids who are here for the year, it was pretty much a night like all others. I can’t say as I missed all the hoopla too very much. It was oddly calm…