When you raise a Jewish child in the U.S., you become inured to the fact that American culture is interwoven with Christian motifs – especially in December, when Christmas often becomes a celebration of American culture. After all, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” was written by a Jewish American, Irving Berlin.
When you live in Israel, you are surrounded by a Jewish culture, without Christian accoutrements.
Well, not always.
And so it was, one December morning about 20 years ago, when I took my then-5-year-old daughter Rivka to the doctor.
We traveled by bus from our home in Efrat, traversing Bethlehem, en route to Jerusalem.
Rivka noticed, with curiosity, from the bus window, that a huge banner of a large red-suited man with a giant white beard was draped over a building, just past Manger Square.
Rivka’s immediate response was to say, “WOW, WHO IS THAT RABBI?”
Well, since Santa Claus does not have rabbinic ordination, I had to break the news to her of the red rabbi’s religious inclinations, despite the flowing white beard.
Rabbis simply do not bless you with “Ho Ho Ho.”
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org