Sunday, September 28th, 2008
In the end, of course, “Hair” is a Broadway musical, a superficial story with superb songs that just happen to be about drugs, dropouts and draft dodging. Some teenagers, from a yeshiva, told an old man (me) that seeing “Hair” made them wish that they were “activists,” too, like the kids in “Hair,” which is as connected to real life as wanting to be a nanny after seeing “Mary Poppins,” or a horse after “Equus.”
Just outside Bryant Park’s wintertime ice skating rink, a young Israeli named Oz clutches a basketful of purple and green squares of soap, distributing samples to eager passersby. Meanwhile, a muffled version of Bing Crosby’s “Happy Holiday” echoes through the park’s loudspeakers, reminding visitors that all their wishes should come true “while the merry bells keep ringing.”
When I was a small child in Houston, my mother would come to school every year to teach about Chanukah.
Armed with her guitar, wax-encrusted menorah, dreidels and box of latkes mix, my mother (laying her New York accent on a little thicker than usual) gave my Christian classmates a brief recap of the Maccabee story before launching into some songs. A blonde girl once requested "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer." The teacher looked embarrassed, but my mother laughed and said, "Why not?"
Abraham Gordon, a good Jew from Poland, has a favorite Christmas tradition. Each year on Dec. 25 he tells the story of the cast iron stove. It’s a tale with a happy ending — about the family that saved Gordon and his family from the Nazis.On Christmas Eve, 1943, the youngest son in the Ziemczonek family — Catholics who lived on a farm in the part of Poland that became Byelorussia in 1939 — carried the heavy stove to the cave in the forest where the Gordons were hiding.
It only takes a few minutes driving around to see that the “war on Christmas,” or as some might call it the “war for Christmas” is real. There is a large push-back against the secularization of Christmas and the growing pluralistic propensity to universalize the season as “the holidays.”
A mezuzah placed on the door of a condo in South Florida, of all places, is stirring a controversy.
Laurie Richter, a recent law school graduate, attached the mezuzah to the doorpost of her condo apartment in Fort Lauderdale when she moved in on Dec. 1, and the condo board told her recently to take it down. The Port condominium told Richter that the mezuzah violates bylaws that prohibit owners and occupants from attaching, hanging, affixing or displaying anything on the building’s walls, doors, balconies, railings and windows.