Not "Happy Holidays." Merry Christmas.
I write, "my fellow Americans" because, as reported by the Pew Research poll released just last Wednesday, nine in 10 Americans say they celebrate Christmas.
Apparently, many Americans have forgotten that Christmas is not only a Christian holy day, but also an American national holiday. Just as we wish one another a "Happy Thanksgiving" or a "Happy Fourth," so, too, we should wish fellow Americans a "Merry Christmas."
It doesn't matter with which religion or ethnic group you identify; Christmas in America is as American as the proverbial apple pie. That is why some of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs were written by guess who? Jews.
"White Christmas" was written by Irving Berlin (birth name: Israel Isidore Baline).
"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" -- Johnny Marks.
"Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" -- composed by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn.
"Silver Bells" -- by Jay Livingston (Jacob Harold Levison) and Ray Evans (Raymond Bernard Evans).
"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" -- Mel Torme and Robert Wells (Robert Levinson), both Jews.
"Sleigh Ride" -- lyrics by Mitchell Parish (Michael Hyman Pashelinsky).
There are many others as well.
The notion that non-Christians are excluded is absurd.
Americans who feel "excluded" are not excluded. They have decided to feel excluded. Which is, of course, entirely their right to do; no one forces anyone to celebrate any American holiday. But attempts to remove Christmas from the public sphere are destructive to our society. It would be as if Jehovah's Witnesses attempted to remove public celebrations and references to the Fourth of July because they don't celebrate national holidays.
Why are these attempts destructive? Because the entire society -- Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists as well as Christians -- all benefit from the goodness and joy that the Christmas season engenders.
It never occurred to my Orthodox Jewish family not to enjoy this season. It was a tradition in our home to watch the Christmas Mass from the Vatican every Christmas Eve (unless it was a Friday evening, and therefore the Sabbath, when no television watching was allowed). Had you visited our home, you would have seen my mother -- and my father, my brother and I all wearing our kippot (Jewish skullcaps) -- watching Catholics celebrate Christmas.
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