Israeli Chief Rabbi Condemns Christmas Celebrations by Jews in Israel

It would be interesting to see what the Christian Zionist reaction to this statement will be. Note the date of the report.

Israeli Chief Rabbi Condemns Christmas Celebrations by Jews in Israel
By Laurie Copans Associated Press Writer

Published: Dec 24, 2002

JERUSALEM (AP) – Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau on Tuesday urged Jews in Israel not to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s Day, warning that such observances threaten the identity of the Jewish state.

Lau encouraged Christian Israeli Arabs, foreign workers and immigrants to mark the holidays. But he said Jewish families should not “be swept into keeping a way of life that is not their own, while obliterating and losing their self-respect.”

In recent years, small numbers of Israeli Jews have begun celebrating Christmas, putting up lights in shops and even trees in homes. The trend began with the influx of thousands of Christians – many of them married to Jews – in the early 1990s as part of a wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union.

At the same time, New Year’s Eve has become a major party night at Tel Aviv hotels, despite threats by local rabbis to punish the establishments by removing their approval to serve kosher food.

Interest in Christmas has grown since fighting with the Palestinians broke out two years ago and Christian foreign workers replaced their Palestinian counterparts in jobs. Israel has also undergone a type of cultural globalization – expressed in a desire among many Israelis to take part in what they view as a world holiday.

Such expressions grate on the nerves of many Israeli Jews, particularly Lau.
“Why should we have anything to do with Christmas or New Year’s Eve, in the shade of the Christmas tree?” Lau asked in a statement issued on Christmas Eve.

“We never imagined that even in our independent country of the Jewish nation, foreign cultures would threaten our identity as a people and a nation.”

At Mike’s Place in Jerusalem’s center, American-Israeli bartender Dave Sussman put up blue and white lights, red and silver tinsel and a plastic Christmas tree. For the 25-year-old Jew from Boston, Mass., the holiday is just a reason to have fun, but he said he has heard many complaints from religious Jews passing by.

On Christmas Eve, Sussman found himself serving beers to two Orthodox Jews who didn’t like the decor.

“There’s nothing fun about this,” said one of the men, an American-Israeli from North Miami Beach, Fla., who would give only his first name – Zvi. “It bothers me a little bit that Jews like to do this.”

“It’s the lights, dude,” Sussman retorted, adjusting his baseball cap. “I stare at these lights at least four hours a day!”

Tel Aviv, a more secular city than Jerusalem, demonstrates much more Christmas cheer. The Tel Aviv branch of Mike’s Place goes all out for the holiday, with a big party and Turkey dinner. Both bars expect to be packed for New Year’s Eve.

This week Israeli radio stations have occasionally played Christmas songs like “Jingle Bells” and “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” Israel’s national radio station even played “Silent Night,” a carol about the birth of the baby Jesus.

Lau warned that such habits could bring about assimilation between Jews and Christians.
Quoting from Psalms 106:35, Lau said; “They mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshipped their idols, which became a snare to them.”

According to Israeli government statistics, 142,000 Christians live in Israel, including 115,000 Christian Arabs. The figures do not include the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

AP-ES-12-24-02 1616EST

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6 Comments

  1. The Jews dont beleive Jesus the Christ is the son of God.

    So why celebrtae Christmas. ( They Shouldnt)

    Since the Jews are the they who cruicified him.

  2. I think the rabbi should put more effort condemning all those jews who practice indian who-knows-what as there are much larger number of those (with all their feng-shui home decor, yoga classes etc)

  3. If the intention of the rabbi is to keep the identity of the jewish poeple as intact as possible and discouraging it to become adulterated with other cultures so as not to dilute its rich significance and religous validity is to be upheld. but to quote psalm 106 and apply it to us christians that is saying that the jews are mingling with christians and adopting our culture which centers around idolatry is an abomination to me. we worship the same Yahweh God whom the jews worship and hold precious, quote and live by the admonitions of the books of moses and the prophets just as much and even more than many jews do. we do not worship idols ( God forbid!!!) and we defenitely do not consider the jewish religion( at least I don’t) as a separate religion from ours ( the catholic faith) . in fact I consider the catholic faith as the culcmination of the jerwish faith. the Lord Jahweh revealed Himself to Moses and the prophets preparing a people for HIm who had to consecrate itself to HIm alone. to these people whom He led in Love and teaching admonishing and encouraging righteous living, jusitce, faithfulness and Holiness, He promised that one day He Himself would come down to lead them, live with them and give them the fulness of justice. ‘ in the fullness of time’ as the gospel says He honoured HIs promise and indeed came down to the earth to become one of us, so that the full and final revelation was complete. jesus is the final revelation of the |Father of Life who chose moses, and the prophets to encourage ‘ a holy nation’ for God. Jesus is the image of the father and in him all the prophesis are fulfilled. so to say that celebrating christmas is not deeming to a jew is a bit confusing. our faith is the fulfillment of the jewish desire!!!oh that one day all jews relaise what they have been refusing all this time!!! my daily prayer is that the messiah they passed on to us will one day be received back by the jews who received first the revelation, were the first holy people chosen to be concerated to Yahweh God,who gave us the faith first and the gospels, who taught us the way and to whom therefore we are and will be always indebted. unlike one of the comments above I do not consider my jewish brethren to be klillers of the messiah, no no I consider them to be my elder brothers and sisiters who taught us all we needed to know about him and who passed on to us even unto bloodshed their own love and adoration to Yahweh God and devotion and adherance to the holyu scriptures. let us understand that the christian faith not only does not threaten jewish faith but moreover makes it credible and complete. the chritian faith ( and particulaly the catholic faith which is derived without any adulterations from the apostles teaching direclty) is the fulfillment of what the jewish faith desiored, expected and proclaimed that would come to pass. during the four weeks before christmas we catholics daily read from the prophet Isaiah who prepares us for the celebraiton of the messiah whom he speaks so much about, he leads us slowly by his great joyous declarations and outburst of comforting words.’ the people who lived in darkness saw a great light. those who lived in the shadow of death, behold a great light shoen on them….’

    thank you dear brothers and sisters, children sons and daughters of the prophets and of the son of th epromise Isaac for delivering to us the precious faith by which we are ready to liver and die.I FEEL IT MY DUTY AND A SIGN OF MY GRATITUDE TOWARDS YOU TO PRAY THAT YOU ALSO COME TO RECOGNISE THE JEWISH MESSIAH YOU PASSED ON TO US AS THE ONE TRUE SHEPHERD OF ISRAEL WHO CAME TO GIVE IT ITS TRUE IDENTITY….NOT ONE OF A RACE AND GENETIC NATURE BUT ONE OF A SPIRITUAL AND ETERNAL REALITY WHICH DREW INTO ITS FOLD ALL PEOPLE AND RACES, JUST AS THE PROPHET PROPHESISES: ‘ LET US GO TO THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD…TO LEARN HIS PATHS….FOR FROM ZION ISSUES FORTH THE LAW AND THE PRECEPTS FROM JERUSALEM

  4. Christmas has little now to do with religion. It’s a time when we put up trees, have time off work and eat a little too much. Plus, let’s not forget the children who love opening their toys, and those family get togethers where Grandad always drinks too much Malt Whisky and dad gets another hideous jumper from his mother. Christians are free to celebrate the religious significance of Christmas if they wish – but as a not at all religious Jewish girl, I just enjoy the celebration – and I guess many Israelis are starting to feel the same.

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