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What Messianics think of Christmas

Interesting discussion in the Messianic group on Facebook. I asked what Messianic folks think of Christians celebrating Christmas, and what they thought of Messianic Jewish people celebrating Christmas.

For those that don’t know, Messianics almost universally don’t celebrate Christmas. (Why not?)

What followed really showed the diversity within the Messianic movement – wide range of answers, from “It’s idolatry”, to “I say ‘Merry Christmas’ to my Christian friends.”

  • Judah Gabriel Himango

    How do you guys feel about Christians celebrating Christmas? How do you feel about Messianic Jews celebrating it?

    I'm in a tough spot this year with some family wanting to celebrate it, others abhorring it. I'd like to hear how you guys feel about it.

  • Joseph Robert Applegate I tend to put lights on my Sukkah and play Mendlessons Angels we have heard on high to all my neighbors but I like them to think I am a harmless lunatic

  • Judah Gabriel Himango My wife, a wonderful Christian woman, decided this year to do the full out Christmas stuff. I'm uncomfortable with it. It's caused some strain.
    Furthermore, I run Chavah Messianic Radio, and several folks have complained that Marty Goetz has a few songs on there, like "O Come, O Come, Immanuel", which have become associated with Christmas.

    As it stands, my house is decorated with both Hanukkah lights, menorah, etc. but also Christmas elements like pine wrap, Christmas ornaments. I objected to a tree, otherwise that'd be up, too.

    Still curious to hear what others think about this.

  • Rod Emmert Timmons I think it can be a great tool to share with each and come together in the Spirit of Yeshua, My house is in the boat and we are slowly removing some old items that we hold dear. But my wife and I will not do a tree thing, it has been a few years now, and it's nice not having to spending the monies a spruce :)

  • Judah Gabriel Himango Yeah, the tree is an offence to me. I currently believe it's a kind of idol. I'm not one to find a demon under every stone, but I strongly objected to the tree in my house, which caused some additional headaches.
    Gosh, I hate this time of year! :-p


  • Slade Henson We do not do Christmas but I don't care if anyone else does. I don't see the pagan baggage that some websites espouse.

  • Judah Gabriel Himango It seems to me there's a lot of "paganoid" folks out there. I used to be in that camp, too. Even with the exaggeration of the pagan connections, I still feel uncomfortable with decorating a tree with silver and gold, making it the centerpiece of the house, opening gifts under it, singing songs around it (or worse, to it, e.g. Oh Christmas Tree). Meh. Doesn't feel like something Messiah's disciples ought to be doing.
    Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm overstating it. That's how I feel now, though. My wife vehemently disagreed, caused a lot of strain in our house. I'm not sure it's worth fighting over, you know?

  • Slade Henson In a thousand years, archaeologists will dig up our houses and will write doctrinal dissertations on how the clock on the wall was an important idol of some kind.

  • Dani'el Diegmann Heb 13:2 Do not forget to receive strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained messengers.
    It's a time of choosing loyalities and showing evidence of whom one is loyal to. Not an easy time of year for sure.

  • Dawn Sexton Pampel I live with my brother and Mother....they celebrate Christmas (but do not celebrate Chanukkah with me)....However my personal belief is that if you are raising up the name of Yeshua and worshiping that not what matters the most! As believers are we not to be all things to all men to show the love of Yeshua and to not offend others?


  • MRav. Avner Solomon Jeremiah 10: 1-5 will give you my opinion of observing C-mas in any form.

  • Judah Gabriel Himango I understand, Avner. But if your wife was determined to celebrate Christmas, deeming none of it idolatrous, how do you deal? I am telling you it is not easy.

  • Michael Schiffman The way I understand Scripture, an idol is what you lift your heart to. If you have a tree but don't worship it, its just a tree with electric lights on it. Its a seasonal decoration to me, nothing more. Being a Yeshua follower doesn't mean being anti-Christmas. I don't celebrate it personally, but I feel no compulsion to denigrate those who do. I happen to like the music, because its great music. Some of it even contains the Gospel. I have no problem wishing non-Jews a Merry Christmas either. I'm secure enough in who I am to not worry about it. As for the tree being connected to Jeremiah 10, I honestly don't see the connection. Its anachronistic to make such a claim. I have never met anyone who worshipped the tree. If people feel differently about it, I respect their beliefs, but I don't buy it personally.

  • Michael Schiffman Heres something I wrote on my blog about it last year.

    Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Hanukkah Bush


  • Steven A. Bernstein Your relationship with your wife is MUCH more important than banning Christmas. Love her and cherish her and guide her learning. When Mashiach returns Christmas won't be important anyway.

  • Michael Schiffman Noel to that!

  • Slade Henson I prefer his yartzeit over his birth anyway.

  • Judah Gabriel Himango Thanks, guys.

  • MRav. Avner Solomon You can always do the commercial Christmas thing and stress that Yeshua was born on Sukkot, not December 25 (if you need a teaching on that with Scripture references, I can send it to you). You can also show how Yeshua was conceived around Kislev 25 (the Light of the World conceived at the time of the Festival of Lights). Also.... make sure it's turkey, not chazer (ham). :)

    Steven A. Bernstein Problems with the Sukkot idea are, 1) on Sukkot it is a sin not to be in Yerushalayim and Yeshua did not sin, and 2) the Romans did not take census during pilgrimage festivals. Rosh HaShana fits better as a birth date.

  • Michael Mitchel personally, i view all the paganmas stuff nothing more than the 21st century version of the roman holiday of saturnalia. there really is not much of a difference and we have all been brainwashed to think all the trees and elves are all harmless.

  • Steven A. Bernstein Nevertheless, millions of Gentiles have been lead to Yeshua through Christmas.

  • Rod Emmert Timmons I agree with Schiffman and as one who is married as well, My wife understands, but likes to add her Christmas mix in every year, and outside of myself I can do nothing, but I can ad all my Hanukkah stuff and I can now feel the sway of doing that every year. I have my Mother in Law that like to tell my wife all the time that she not Jewish!... even to the point of naming my boy. She ask what did you name him?...hum? We name him ASHER!

  • Dawn Sexton Pampel Dr. Michael Schiffman~Thank you for sharing your Blog....I found it to be of great help to me in this Season....

  • Michael Schiffman thanks.

  • Joseph Robert Applegate Okay since Chanukah roaching and falls on the winter Soltice this year, here is an early chanukah present from mattisyahu... a little YidHop video called MIRACLE!

  • Linda Bedwell A parable for those clinging to Xmas instead of Sukkot:

    The cheerful little girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them, a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box..

    "Oh Mommy please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?"

    Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

    "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself.. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

    As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

    Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

    Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night as he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

    "Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

    "Then give me your pearls."

    "Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my very favorite."

    "That's okay, Honey, Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

    About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

    "Daddy, you know I love you."

    "Then give me your pearls."

    "Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

    "That's okay. Sleep well. Yahua bless you, little one.. Daddy loves you."

    And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

    A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian style.
    As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

    "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

    Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace . With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here Daddy, this is for you."

    With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.

    He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure. So it is, with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so that he can give us beautiful treasures.

    Yahua will never take away something without giving you something better in its place.

  • Michael Schiffman Yeshua didn't give Chrstmas, but he didnt take it away either. some of his followers are trying to do that.

  • Steven A. Bernstein It can only be Sukkot if one believes Yeshua sinned.

  • Michael Schiffman In the Jewish world, we don't celebrate birthdays, but Yartzeits. ITs the culmination of the life we celebrate, not the beginning

  • Robert Rubenking Judah G. H.:
    There is one Torah for both the native born and for the Christian convert... The ALMIGHTY tells us that we are to have nothing to do with vain celebrations and the practice of false religions.

    December 25th is not the birthday of Yeshua; it is the traditional celebration of the birth of Mithras (the Greco-Roman sun-god), so why would any Bible-believing Christian or Jew want to have anything to do with that celebration. More than likely, Yeshua was born on the 15th Day of Tishrei, and Scripture and historical evidence seem to support this. So if you want to celebrate the birth of MESSIAH, then have fun at Sukkot, but have nothing to do with the foolish ways of pagan peoples...


  • Joseph Robert Applegate Try not visualising the cup half full and realise that people are walking around shopping malls listening to Mendelsson's (a Jew) Angels we have heard on high and thinking about a messiah in a sukkah (even though they call it a manger! Your mission if you are ready to accept it is to tell them the difference!)

  • Slade Henson ‎@ Steven Bernstein: your post on the invalidity of a Sukkot timeframe have fallen on deaf ears. I wanted to let you know that some noticed.

  • Joseph Robert Applegate Slade Achi, do you celebrate the festival of Saturnailia?

  • Slade Henson No, Joseph, I do not. I don't celebrate Christmas either.

  • Michael Schiffman I don't celebrate Xmas, but I might start doing it just to piss you guys off.

  • Michael Schiffman Maybe I'll go to the Salvation Army and donate my time on Christmas, along with the many Jewish people who do it so their christian friends can have the time off to be with their families. Instead of a Christmas tree, how about a lit up palm tree... theres more room for presents. Doesn't make it a christmas tree.. its just a tree with lights on it.. but hey.. wait.. isn't that what a christmas tree is? Just a tree with lights on it? The Soviets had the same thing, only they called it a new years tree.... so is the tree a communist symbol? You guys need to get a grip on reality. How do you guys ever use the calendar.. after all, isn't Thursday named after THOR, the pagan god? how about months? weren't some of them named after pagan gods? if you knew the origins of everything, you would never do anything. Even some of the psalms borrowed words from the canaanites... the key is.. HOW DO WE use them? A tree is just a tree, a kiss is just a kiss, and a cigar is just a cigar.. and I'm going to light one up..... JEEZ! - just a statement of frustration..... not invoking any pagan deity... relax.

  • Ruby Bender The scripture says not to cut a tree from the forest and decorate it. I think they viewed it as having a spirit- perhaps a reincarnated spirit of a dead person they considered a deity - and they did it in a worship form. A potted plant or tree doesn't oppose scripture as I see it - but to decorate it - might not be the thing to do. Do you want seasonal decorations to brighten up the time? How about white and blue lights around your window to celebrate Chanukah with Israelite colors?

  • Michael Schiffman what about a palm tree.. they don't grow in forests....

  • Michael Schiffman the scripture was referrring to a pagan rite that had nothing to do with christmas trees. they didn't even have fir trees in Israel, so it had to be some other kind of tree.

  • Steven A. Bernstein Where does Scripture say that?

  • Joseph Robert Applegate Jeremiah 10

  • Slade Henson Ruby is making reference to Jer 10. This is a common attack against Xmas. However, if a decorated tree is an aveira, then substituting a window would likewise be so. I'm so glad G-d is far more merciful than His followers.

  • Steven A. Bernstein Wow, Jer 10 doesn't say anything like that. Mitzvot only occur in Torah. The Prophets sometimes reiterate them.

  • Steven A. Bernstein Jer states the practice is hevel and can cause neither good nor evil. It supports R. Schiffman.

  • Robert Rubenking Michael S.
    They did have cedars, and I have read archeological reports, showing that spruce were imported and decorated by some of the pagan priests... In fact, some reports state that the Asheriym of Jer. 10 were groves of decorated cedars... The term can be equally applied to trees and to obelisks...

  • Slade Henson Mitzvot only occur in Torah. Excellent point!

  • Steven A. Bernstein If the practice can cause neither good nor evil, then who cares?

  • Agudat Bris here is what I think about it. Listen to this

    The Clear Truth about Christmas - Nazarene Space

  • Steven A. Bernstein Here is the problem. If Christmas is rejected because it is pagan, then all of Christianity must be rejected for the same reason. Practices such as once weekly services, Communion, pulpit facing the congregation, choir robes, holding hands during prayer, bowing head during prayer, praying before eating, all originate in paganism.

  • Michael Schiffman robert R.. it still doesnt make it a christmas tree.. totally anachronistic. If pagans ate steak, it doesnt make eating steak pagan.. sorry, its too contrived. We all have our axes to grind, and we all try to make it seem like ours are holy ones, but one thing doesn't equal another. Pagans offered cows on their altars.. it didn't stop God from commanding Israel to offer cows on theirs.


  1. The Messianic group on Facebook is closed, so I see you imported the comments into your blog (oh my, but that's a lot to read...but who am I to talk?).

    There's also quite a discussion going on at Boaz Michael's Facebook page about a Kosher Christmas Tree.

    It seems like tons of bloggers in the Messianic and Christian blogospheres are talking about Christmas angst today. I'll include a little of my own in tomorrow's morning meditation: "Kabbalah Christmas".

  2. It's an exclusive club. Only sophisticated types. ;-)

  3. I missed the original Facebook page so I thought I'd put my two shekels worth here.

    I don't 'celebrate' Chistmas but I don't shun it either. I think of it as a secular holiday, like New Years or Arbor Day. Every year around this time the Christians lament "Where is Christ in Christmas?" they can't find Him because he was never there in the first place!

    At the same time, the separation of Church and State bigots try to force the removal of "religious" symbols such as Santa Claus and snowflakes.

    I think the celebration of Easter is much more serious. It is an intentionally, antisemitic, twisted version of one of HaShems appointed times that is named after a pagan deity. I cringe when I see churches spitting in the face of YHVH by holding Easter egg hunts, holding sunrise services, and feasting on swine.

    Christmas is all about Santa - fairly harmless IMHO. Easter is about setting up an abomination in the place of one of Gods holiest festivals.

  4. It's an exclusive club. Only sophisticated types. ;-)

    I noticed. ;-) I'll take Groucho Marx's position on clubs and belonging (let me know if you're not familiar with the famous quote and I'll provide it).

    As promised, today's "morning meditation" is Kabbalah Christmas. Now available for your reading pleasure.

  5. Stop bloging and bring the eggnog...Ho,Ho, Ho....

  6. I notice that any time someone defends the use of a tree, they only argue that the Scriptures don't forbid it rather than address why they want to use one in the first place. From a logical standpoint, why would a person want to cut down a tree, bring it inside a house, decorate it and put gifts under it, just until the winter solstice is over?

    It's not just Jer 10... it's when you combine that with Dt. 16:21, 2 Kings 17:10, etc. that it looks suspicious. It's documented in secular literature that evergreens were used for pagan reasons, especially during the winter and the solstice festival. It's documented in Scripture that the Father doesn't look favorably on integrating any pagan practices into the type of worship He prescribed (Dt. 12:30-32).

    Going only on reasonable doubt, why would a person risk violation of Scripture to keep a non-Scriptural tradition? Isn't that alone making it into an idol? If it's all in the spirit of celebrating the Messiah's birth, why is it "just not Christmas without a tree"?

  7. The tree is mostly an Angle-Saxon tradition. I wouldnt call it pagan, but not doing trees isnt wrong either.

    Advent and the Creche are more important, imho.

    Celebrating Christmas after the 25th is important. The time from late Nov/early Dec is not Christmas season, it is advent - a time of penance, fasting, and anticipation for the savior of the world. Christmas is the octave (8 or 12 days depending on your tradition) after the feast of the Incarnation on the 25th. Some Eastern rite Catholics and Orthodox celebrate it until the Epiphany.

  8. I think it can be better to avoid giving up the Christian traditions too soon (unless of course you are strongly drawn to do so.)

    If you first add the Festivals of God it will be natural to gradually drop the others. Why celebrate a shadow of Passover when you can have the real thing?

    If you do it gradually it will be an easier transition.

    Judah, this might ease the tension in your house - encourage your wife to celebrate Gods Moadim with you. Perhaps after a time, she won't be drawn so much to the Christian traditions. In the mean time, love her!

    After 15 years in the movement I don't even think about the Christian parties. If anything, I'm a little annoyed that the stores are closed.

  9. I think there is less concern about celebrating Christmas in Christian and (non-Messianic) Jewish intermarriages than in the Messianic world. There are intermarried couples in our local Reform shul who do the traditional Jewish holidays and still have a Christmas tree. About the most "angst" they put into it is asking any Jewish guests visiting their home if they'd mind the tree.

    Many years ago, when we lived in Southern California, we were friends with an older Jewish couple (they've since passed away) who would visit us on Christmas and enjoy our company. They weren't celebrating Christmas themselves, but none of the traditional decorations bothered them. They came to see us, not to worry about "the tree."

    Only extremely marginal Christian groups and most Messianics get *this* hung up over Christmas. My family no longer celebrates Christmas but we don't try to bust the chops of anyone who does, including any intermarried couples. We need to take the plank out of our own eyes before worrying about a speck of dust in someone else's.

  10. It's not about what I think or you think as mush as it is about what YHWH's word says and what Yeshua did. Yeshua is the Living Word, it is in His Way we want to follow:

    YHWH's Feasts:
    Feast/ Commanded/ Did Yeshua
    Passover Yes Yes
    Unleavened B. Yes Yes
    First Fruits Yes Yes
    Shavuot Yes Yes
    Yom Teruah Yes Assumed
    Yom Kippur Yes Yes
    Sukkot Yes Yes

    Jewish Feasts:
    Purim No ??
    Hanukah No Yes

    Christian Feasts:
    Lent No No
    Easter No No
    Pentecost Yes Yes
    Halloween No No
    Christmas No No

    So that is what Yeshua did.

    So what does His word say anything about this subject od Chrsitmas or anything asscociated with it's practice?
    Jer 10:1-7 Hear the word which Yahweh speaks to you, house of Israel!
    2Thus says Yahweh, "Don't learn the way of the nations, and don't be dismayed at the signs of the sky; for the nations are dismayed at them.

    3For the customs of the peoples are vanity; for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe.

    4They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it not move.

    5They are like a palm tree, of turned work, and don't speak: they must be carried, because they can't go. Don't be afraid of them; for they can't do evil, neither is it in them to do good."

    6There is none like you, Yahweh; you are great, and your name is great in might.

    7Who should not fear you, King of the nations? For it appertains to you; because among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their royal estate, there is none like you.

    So cutting a tree to decorate and fixing it so it won't move is vanity according to His Word.

    This is not mentioning Santa Claus or St. Nicholas, Misteltoe, Elves and other cultural infusions.

    The questions is not what I think, or you think, what only matters what does YHWH command. Would YHWH condone Christmas as is, in our culture today?


  11. That reminds me, I've been meaning to write a blog applying the concept of "the Torah is not in Heaven" (see Deuteronomy 30:12 for source) to the broader context of believers. Probably sometime Monday or Tuesday.

  12. My wife and I are new to the messianic movement. In many ways I see messianic's rebuilding the wall that separates Jew and Gentile. (note present tense) Messianic's celebrate non-commanded feasts. Birthdays have been celebrated by many cultures for many years. What is wrong with celebrating Jesus's?

  13. What is wrong with celebrating Jesus's?

    Dear Anonymous,

    From my point of view, nothing. But as you probably figured out if you read all of Judah's blog, a lot of people have real issues with Christmas. I'm a little surprised that some of them haven't tried to answer your question from one perspective or another by now (some of them can be very intense), but maybe the issue is all "talked out".

    We all make decisions about what we think we need and want to do to express our faith. Some people have a very positive emotional and spiritual connection to Christmas and if "that's the way you roll", that's terrific. Others find their spiritual expression in different events such as Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot. The matter can be hotly debated this way and that, but as I said, we all make decisions. God will sort them out in the end.

  14. Thank you for the reply James. This subject is so fraught with perils! I think one of the things I really like about Messianic Congregations is the variety of views on subjects such as this. Of course, the main thing I like is the deep, heart felt, closeness one experiences in worship. Much deeper than just singing a few songs and keeping track of the time. I think my wife and I will always have a connection with our Christian background and Christmas will always be a part of our lives, but our home will always be with our Messianic family and with Israel. Shaalu Shalom Yerushalayim .

  15. I ran across a Chanukah/Christmas article written by Julie Weiner for her In the Mix column at "The Jewish Week" which I found illuminating. The Messianic community likes to think that it has the most "ownership" of this "struggle" but I think it would add some perspective if the community could take a look at the interfaith families that are outside the Messianic (and particularly the One Law) framework and see how they deal with this issue. OL Messianics have a tendency to panic whenever Christmas is brought up rather than seeing these holidays within the larger context of varied religious traditions and allowing for those traditions.

    A large part of Messianic Judaism doesn't do the "Judaism" part very well, especially in its ability to allow for variability within observance and worship.

  16. Those who think that spiritual adultery (syncretism with pagan religions) is OK or even pleasing to God because God knows their heart that they truly are worshipping Him and not the false gods from which the traditions and practices of Sunday, Christmas, Easter, eating pork and shellfish, etc originate ought to try (or at least envision) this scenario:

    They could modernize their marriage (or significant relationship) by getting a hooker or gigolo to join in for a threesome -- and when the spouse (or significant other) reacts with shock, outrage, and jealous anger, they may soothe the situation by explaining that they won't be thinking of the other person, the only person in their mind will be their spouse (or significant other), so the fidelity of their trust and relationship will be maintained.

    Then everything will be as OK in their relationship... as the theology of mainline Christianity is to God.

    1 Kings 11:4
    Jeremiah 10:2a
    John 15:22
    Romans 1:20
    Ephesians 5:23
    1 Thessalonians 5:22

  17. In Linda Bedwell's story about leaving "paganmas" behind, she uses a birthday reference. If we as Messianics, truly following Yeshua, are not informed to observe His birthday (we know was NOT in December anyways, but whenever it was for sure..we were not informed in Torah to celebrate it.), then why would we celebrate our own birthdays? If we are not called to celebrate the most important birth there ever was, why would we celbrate our own? Isn't that saying, in a sense, that we believe we are more important than Yeshua? Celebrating our own birthdays is also a kind of idolatry. This should not be a part of a true Messianic's life. Though that story is a good metaphor, it is discounted by the birthday reference.

  18. To hit the nail on the head.

  19. I am all for whoever wants to observe Christmas to celebrate the birth of Messiah. I don't care.

    On the other hand, Jews don't observe birthdays (in a religious way) - we only observe passing aways instead, to keep the memory alive.

    "Celebrating our own birthdays is also a kind of idolatry. This should not be a part of a true Messianic's life."

    That's pure BS.

  20. I've noticed that the Gentile members of Messianic "Judaism" seem to be more rigid about the whole Christmas thing than Jewish people. I quote from Julie Wiener's column In the Mix published at "The Jewish Week website:

    "A few years ago, the sight of my offspring engaging in tree trimming might have made me squeamish, but this year, while we don’t (and won’t) have our own tree, I’m on a bit of a crusade, so to speak, against Christmasphobia. By which I mean the attitude many Jews (even some intermarried ones) have that Christmas and all its trappings must be avoided at all costs lest we assimilate into nothingness — and that we must be offended when clueless but well intentioned Christians wish us a merry Christmas or offer us gifts wrapped in red and green.
    Like intermarriage itself, the presence or absence of a Christmas tree in one’s home is often used as a shorthand pulse check of Jewish identity — and both are rather flawed, simplistic measurement devices.
    The fact is that many interfaith families, and in-married families with Christian relatives, do live full Jewish lives yet also partake in Christmas celebrations."

    Although there are many things about my former congregation I miss, primarily the people, I don't miss the overarching philosophy of the One Law movement to be uncompromisingly inflexible and harsh to those who are different from them, "Anonymous". I never taught that. My congregation never embraced that. But the larger association with that kind of thinking was one of the factors that finally sent me in a different direction.

  21. >> I've noticed that the Gentile members of Messianic "Judaism" seem to be more rigid about the whole Christmas thing than Jewish people.

    This is a broader human condition. Converts to Judaism tend to be more zealous (overly so?) than many 'natives', shall we say, who have often grown apathetic over the years.

    (A rabbi commented on this some time ago, I forget his name now...)

    Same goes for Christianity, or most any other religion. So many apathetic, yet a new convert (say, Aviad Cohen) is zealous and outspoken. Many such converts overly-so.

    So it is with gentile Messianics who, in a sense, have converted away from Christianity and towards a Torah-observant lifestyle.

    It's not limited to religion. In tech, I see people who "cross over" to different camps -- say, .NET tech stack to the Ruby world -- and become Ruby zealots, more zealous than the natives.

    I wonder if the psychology world has a term for this.

  22. Case in point, Derek Leman.

    (I love you, Derek! :-))

  23. Same goes for Christianity, or most any other religion. So many apathetic, yet a new convert (say, Aviad Cohen) is zealous and outspoken. Many such converts overly-so.

    Well, yes and no. I might have agreed with you ten years ago, but now I see the One Law movement as a "Judaized" version of conservative Christianity. More often than not, people bring the religious attitudes they already had into OL/MJ and "dress them up" in a kippah and tallit rather than allow themselves to change their thoughts, feelings, and spirits by adopting a new religious and spiritual outlook (which any actual convert will tell you can take many years).

    I'm not saying that "Anonymous" or anyone else has to change their convictions. They probably shouldn't if they really believe they are following the path God set out before them. I only ask that we not take the Christmas tree and use it like a big ugly club to beat up Christians who choose to express their love for Jesus and his love for other people by celebrating Christmas. Many people may believe that some form of Messianic Judaism is the right way to love God, but there are also many Christians in churches who love God too and who live out that love by visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and comforting the widow. If they do that *and* have a Christmas tree, should we condemn them?

    By the way, I do notice your balanced and even attitude in representing the other opinion and appreciate it, Judah. However, being a notorious blabbermouth, one blog comment isn't going to be enough to contain my response. So I submit my "extra meditation" for today: Out of Balance.

    Oh, and if Derek commented, I can't see it here. Spam filter?

  24. many Christians in churches who love God too and who live out that love by visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and comforting the widow. If they do that *and* have a Christmas tree, should we condemn them?

    Many Hindus and Buddhists love god(s) and visit the sick, feed the hungry, comfort the widow. If they do that *and* have a decorative statue, should we condemn them?

    Point is, dealing with the Christmas tree issue is something folks in the Messianic world (which mixes Jewish and Christian elements) as well as mixed Jewish/Christian couples will have to deal with. You and your wife have chosen to deal with it by discarding Christmas. I'm not so lucky! :-D

  25. Many Hindus and Buddhists love god(s) and visit the sick, feed the hungry, comfort the widow. If they do that *and* have a decorative statue, should we condemn them?

    We might disagree with their practice and, from the Bible, we know their idols do not honor God, but God will judge, not us. Our main job, besides spreading the Word, is to avoid falling into idolatry and we can do that without beating up other people. Also, I'm not convinced the tree is an idol. Does your wife worship and bow to it? No. It's a decoration with religious significance but doesn't mean she thinks it's God. Do you ever wear a Star of David? Is it an idol or a decoration with religious significance?

    As far as Hindus are concerned, there's one guy who's my hero. This video I found on Facebook is just amazing:

    He isn't a Christian (or Messianic) but he lives a more Christ-like life than most believers I know.

    Point is, dealing with the Christmas tree issue is something folks in the Messianic world (which mixes Jewish and Christian elements) as well as mixed Jewish/Christian couples will have to deal with. You and your wife have chosen to deal with it by discarding Christmas. I'm not so lucky! :-D

    Did you read the Julie Wiener quote I posted above? You're not alone. The "discussions" I've been involved with over the past week have done more to increase my tolerance of Christmas than the last decade of Messianic worship.

    A Christmas tree doesn't have to be a disaster. Think of the other things you tolerate in your marriage for the sake of peace (and I know you posted a smiley face at the end of your comment, but I'm on a roll). Think of how much your wife tolerates from you for the same reasons. God tempers justice with mercy otherwise no one could survive. Why don't we do the same?

  26. >> Our main job, besides spreading the Word, is to avoid falling into idolatry

    Precisely. And if a Christmas tree is a form of an idol, then it's idolatry. If not, then it's not idolatry.

    The question shifts back to the original crux: is a tree an idol? You don't believe so, others (including many religious Jews) think otherwise. It's a big debate that we won't solve here.

    As for me, the tree is a form of an idol. I can tell you why I believe that, if you want to understand. Otherwise, continue to discard my opinions as internet trash. ;-)

  27. OK,OK, I want to be fair. Tell me why.

    Oh, and I find religious Jews (non-Messianic) are really not "idol-phobic". They don't have Christmas trees because they're used to worship Jesus, not because they think the trees are idols. They *do* consider it idol-worship for a man to be worshiped as God, but that's another blog post.

  28. Ok. The tree is an idol to me because it's made the centerpiece of the house, gifts are opened under it, nativity scenes of Messiah's birth are placed under it, the family gathers around it, decorates it with silver and gold and lights, hangs memories on it, even sings songs to it/about it.

    That's a form of worship.

    All that, when it has zero to do with Messiah's birth; rather it has links to nordic fake-god religious rites. Canaanite fake-god rites are outlawed in the Torah, regardless of their seeming harmlessness. I apply that today, and consider the tree such a practice.

  29. So assuming you celebrate Chanukah, is the menorah an idol? OK, it's not as significant an object as a Christmas tree, but it is a tradition (as opposed to building a Sukkah which a mitzvah) and for eight nights, you light candles on it, sing around it, play dreidel near it, and eat latkes by it's light.

    The only reason a Christmas tree seems like an idol and a Chanukah menorah doesn't is because the scope of Christmas is much larger (extending far outside the Christian world in to secular existence) and because a tree is usually a lot bigger physically.

    Really Judah, if Julie Wiener, who probably has more significant reasons to be uneasy about Christmas trees than you, do can lobby against "Christmasphobia", then perhaps you also can set aside your difficulties with "the tree" as well.

    Remember when the Syrian General Naaman was healed of leprosy by Elisha the Prophet in 2 Kings 5? If having a Christmas tree in your home is that difficult and you have it there only to please your wife, consider the words of verses 18-19. Elisha was more gracious to Naaman than you are being to yourself.

  30. A menorah is a replica of an element in God's temple on earth, and a picture of an element in God's Temple in Heaven.

    I don't decorate it with silver and gold, I don't hang memories on it, and I don't sing around it or to it or about it. You're trying to stretch the correlation.

    You've found a modern Jewish woman who is OK with Christmas. Mostly. And because of that, you feel OK about it yourself. Likewise, I can find hundreds of Jews who object to the tree. Example: New York Times best-selling Jewish author Anita Diamant wrote, "When [a Jew] looks at a Christmas tree, he or she may be seeing two thousand years of virulent persecution by Christians against Jews."

    What's more, the Biblical and righteous story of Hanukkah is all about refusing to give into the ways of the nations: refusing to eat unclean foods, refusing to bring in idols, refusing to give up on God's Torah.

    Putting up a Christmas tree is waving a white flag: "Oh, we give up! These harmless little traditions, even if backed in false-god practices, are OK for us."

    I read Maccabees last night. It made me ashamed of the western culture and my tolerance thereof.

    I mean, people in Israel were butchered if they didn't accept the traditions, culture, practices, and religion of the nations. Antiochus freakin' butchered the men and women, then hung the children, in their homes, by their necks. That we're so easily taken into gentile practices with certain false-god backgrounds, completely unrelated to God and Messiah -- what does that say about us today?

    I don't buy the white-flag argument that it just doesn't matter.

  31. You found one Jewish example of a person who chooses to view the Christmas tree as a symbol of persecution and I found one Jewish example of a person who chooses to tolerate it, although she's still pretty uncomfortable, for the sake of peace in the family. Each person represents lots and lots of Jews so it it safe to say there is no one Jewish consensus about how to react to "the tree".

    You also chose to ignore my example of Elisha and Naaman. Elisha didn't tell Naaman that he was going to fry in hell without an electric fan if he entered the pagan Temple with the king of Syria. He just said, "Go in peace." Or do you believe the prophet screwed up in this situation?

    Frankly, the only people who are suffering in this circumstance right now is you and probably your wife (assuming she knows how you feel about "the tree"). I don't know what you're going to do about it except choose to stay miserable and focus on one problem (the one you have with the Christmas tree) in a world that has lots and lots of much bigger problems.

    You can't dismantle Christmas as a secular celebration in western culture and you're agonizing about having a Christmas tree in your home. Since you apparently can't change any of that, have you thought about changing something you have control over? I don't know if any of this applies to you, but you could take your family and donate some food to your local foodbank (and I'm sorry if they'll give the food to people who might actually eat is on Christmas). You can donate used clothes to a homeless shelter. You could focus on performing some other mitzvah that would benefit people less fortunate than you are. In other words, you can concentrate on doing good rather than obsessing about one lousy Christmas tree.

    Life isn't perfect. Neither are you and neither am I. Paul had a thorn in his side and you have a Christmas tree in your living room. The grace of Yeshua will have to suffice in both situations.

  32. >> it is safe to say there is no one Jewish consensus about how to react to "the tree".

    So what? Really, so what? There was no single Jewish consensus during great evils like Antiochus, either. Consensus doesn't mean squat. So let's not muddy the waters of righteousness by throwing in a consensus factor.

    >> Elisha didn't tell Naaman that he was going to fry in hell without an electric fan if he entered the pagan Temple with the king of Syria.

    I ignored that argument because it's a terrible guide for today. Yes, a prophet of Israel excused a pagan leader of bowing to his nation's idol.

    It's a terrible guide for today because Messiah's disciples are not pagans, nor are they compelled to bow to idols. On the contrary, as followers of the God of Israel, we're compelled to follow the Maccabee example. Namaan may not have had a choice; we do.

    >> Frankly, the only people who are suffering in this circumstance right now is you and probably your wife (assuming she knows how you feel about "the tree"). I don't know what you're going to do about it except choose to stay miserable

    I'm neither suffering nor miserable. I made a compromise with my wife, as I stated in the post, and I think we're both OK with the compromise.

    The point of this post was to show the variety of views on the Christmas issue within the Messianic world. As for the tree, I spoke about the tree in the last few comments only because you wanted to understand why I believed it was a type of idol. I've articulated that view, and will leave it at that.

  33. Judah,
    My house is in the exact same condition. I could not compromise with dressing up the tree for Dec'25 and for people to call it a Chanukah Bush??!! Even more appalling. That's an insult to the Light of The World to graft in paganism.
    FFOZ posted a Facebook article where they deleted any serious opposition about The Kosher Christmas Tree. Those dudes have souled-out and went from Pharisees to Sadducees to straight Herodians. Sad to see they're now pushing to get their TV show(Televangelist?!) on air by insulting their first supporters for deeper pockets :((

  34. I think I'm going to convert the
    1.Quija Board into a "prayer board"

    2.Buddha into "Baby Jesus" in a Nativity Scene

    3.Swastika-Into a sign representing the power of The Holy Spirit.

    4.The Rebel Flag into a sign of rebellion against The Evil One.

    and you guys better not judge my rituals cause it's not a big deal to HaShem.(Pun Intended).


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