Sunday, June 26, 2022

To the Editor:

In “Not My Holiday Season” (December 18, 2014 pg. 50), the author complains about an apparently popular Internet meme that suggests if you’re wished, “Merry Christmas,” you should respond with, “Thank you! You too!”–even if you don’t celebrate Christmas.

She writes, “There is a break in society when people can’t accept, when it doesn’t even occur to them, that maybe Christmas is not my holiday and December is not my holiday season. There is a break in society whenever people make assumptions about others, without the simple courtesy of asking information.”

Wow! This is a major problem in life? A “break in society”? That’s absurd. Perhaps those who unwittingly wish “Merry Christmas” to a non-Christian are simply not thinking or, maybe, they’re ignorant. Has she never been asked, “wait, so Jewish people don’t believe in Jesus?” I dare to assume that these well-wishers are caught up in a period of time in their religious calendar that promotes happiness, joy, and peace, and they simply want to share those feelings with others. What a crime.

Does the author want people to inquire of someone’s religion before offering a greeting? Fortunately, she doesn’t. As she writes, “Really, though, no one needs to ask. I don’t expect, or want, a full interview from every cashier or stranger on the street who would like to say something nice to me. We’re all busy; it’s really fine.” The author’s objection seems to be that people aren’t as capable of “complexity and nuance” as she is, for she does not argue with the fact that the well-wisher has the laudable intention to express their desire for someone else to have a happy holiday.

What, then, is the purpose of the author’s article? She writes, “I think it is important to correct unfounded assumptions, with an eye towards building a society in which we all question our assumptions about each other.” Laudable goal, but the checkout line at Pathmark is not the time. You’re embarrassing the well-wisher. Does the issur of Halvanos Panim (embarrassing someone) not apply to non-Jews? Are non-Jews not created B’tzelem Elokim (the basis for the issur of Halvanos Panim)? If someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, instead of publicly embarrassing them, do the Jewish world a favor – just smile, say thank you, and get over it. There are plenty of Jews out there being mechalel Hashem, we don’t need more.

Ryan Shell
Bergenfield, NJ

To the Editor:

Thank you for the nice introductory articles about Rabbi Mischel and the Livingston community.

I just wanted to note that Rabbi Mischel and Rebecca spent two years in Fair Lawn, helping to establish Shomrei Torah’s Community Growth Initiative, which over the past five years, has led to the growth of over 100 new families moving into Fair Lawn.

Todah rabbah lachem.

William Hochman
Fair Lawn


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