Herry Chrismukkah?

I wasn’t going to say anything about Chrismukkuh.  The Catholic Bishops and Jewish Rabbis recently put out a joint statement condemning the term as offensive to both Christianity and Judaism.  And I get it.  I know that you can’t just make up holidays, and that people have died over the differences between the two religions, and that Jews are concerned about intermarriage finishing the job taken up again and again by one anti-Semitic group after the other.  I don’t take any of that lightly.  Any yet…

…I really wish it were okay to wish people a Herry Chrismukkah.  I love Jesus and Judaism and Christmas and Hanukkah.  I love Christmas trees and menorahs.  My Christmas lights are strung three feet away from where a mezuzah graces our doorpost.  My kids sang the Messiah at Dunster House last week, and played the dreidel game this Tuesday.  It may make people uncomfortable, but it’s our life.

Still, I don’t ever call our particular configuration of celebration by that name; I don’t need to offend people just because the sound of it makes me happy.  In my heart, though, there’s a little bit of Chrismakkuh music playing this time of year.

My Daddy is a Jew.  My mommy is a new-agy, lapsed Lutheran.  I love Jesus.  I’m married to an ordained Baptist.  And we go to a Pentecostal church.  It makes choosing a holiday card a bit more difficult, but it all works together for me.  I can’t imagine being a Christian without Judaism.

It can be more difficult for the boys, though, so I try to make the connections whenever I can.  This week, as friends gathered around our table to eat latkes, light the menorah, and recount the story of the Maccabees, we told the boys that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in the Temple, and that Jesus told people not long before Hanukkah that he was “the light of the world.”

“Why do you think Jesus said that he was the light of the world?” I asked.

They weren’t sure, but Ezra make a guess: “Because he only weighed ten pounds?”

Not quite was I was going for – I’ll admit it.  I thought we might have a deep reflection on the nature of the temple, God’s presence in the temple, the destruction of the temple, and the light of Christ.  Not there yet, it seems.

My Peeps: Grandma Margie, Great-Grandma Dora, Great-Grandpa Sam, and Great-Great-Grandpa Brownstein

Next, I showed them pictures of their great-, great-great, and great-great-great-granparents, trying to remind them that they are descendants of Abraham.  Zach’s response to great-great-grandfather Brownstein?  “Did he come over on the Mayflower?”

We’re definitely not there yet.  But we did have a lot of gelt and a hard time falling asleep after all of the sugar.  That counts for something, yes?

Oh well, there’s always next year.  “In Jerusalem.”  Oh wait.  That’s for Passter. But, please, don’t tell anyone I’m thinking of calling it that.


About Tara Edelschick

Right now, Tara is on sabbatical in Costa Rica. She is sleeping more, and exercising and flossing every day for the first time in her life. She is enjoying her husband, her boys, and Nafisa (the daughter she never had) more than she ever has. And she is learning to rest in the arms of the one who doesn't rank you based on how many things you can cross off your list at the end of the day. Follow her on Twitter@TaraWonders.

  • kimberlee

    I LOVE the history of Judas Maccabee and when I learned about it 9 years ago listening to a Christian radio station, I kind of felt robbed that we do not celebrate Hanukkah. It’s such an important story, yet it’s not in our Bible. :/

    • Tara Edelschick

      I love it too, Kimberlee.

      The story of the Maccabean revolt is not in the Jewish Bible because the rabbis had closed the canon by the time of the revolt. But you can read about it in the Talmud (rabbinic commentary). Hanukkah is one of two Jewish festivals not mentioned in the Jewish Bible but which were added by the rabbis, this one to commemorate the revolt and the miracle in the temple.

      The story can also be found in the Septuagint. The Septuagint is Greek translation of the Old Testament, and it contains several books not found in the Jewish Bible, including the books of Maccabees. Those “extra” books can be found in the Catholic and/or Orthodox Bibles, so you could read more there if you are interested.

      Finally, the festival, the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah means dedication) is mentioned in the book of John, chapter 10. Jesus goes to the temple to celebrate it.