Once we are through Thanksgiving -- one of the two truly unique American holidays – I take out my considerable collection of Christmas music and devote my listening almost exclusively to this genre. While recently listening, I spent some time thinking about what a great country I am blessed to live in -- particularly as a Jew.
Many long-time readers know I wrote (during three Christmas seasons) The Jewish Joy of Christmas Music, The Jewish Joy of Christmas Lights and the Jewish Joy of Christmas Services. I highly suggest you reflect back on these columns because they will give you a solid basis for smiling the rest of your way through this column. Certainly someone can nitpick his or her way through the rest of this column, but take a positive attitude because what better time for us all to be thankful and respectful of others in our great country.
I was driving down a Los Angeles freeway, one I rarely experience due to the high level of traffic even when everyone should have already been at work, and I was listening to one of my Christmas CDs. I just faded into thought about what an amazing country we are blessed to live in every day of our lives.
We can go through the ubiquitous statements that America has its flaws.We all know that. What country doesn’t have flaws? As a Jew I could go through a litany of observations of problems in our past here and some current challenges. But why focus on the negative? I personally have never experienced anti-Semitism. I have experienced anti-Republicanism, but never anti-Semitism.
A lot of it is an “attitude of gratitude.” You cannot truly be joyous without having gratitude for what you have.It is the nature of America. Please name me where in human history Jews have flourished where there is a centralized, large government. Where government makes the decisions for the people, Jews suffer. Jews define the issue of freedom.Give them a chance to flourish and you cannot keep them down. America has provided that.
This has been a Christian country all of my life. I never felt anything other than welcome even when I lived in locations where Jews were a small fraction of the population. I have never hidden my religion anywhere in America.Within a few minutes of meeting me I will almost always make a comment about being a Jew. Never have I had anything other than a positive reaction. Never.
Jews are being run out of countries. As I wrote, when President Trump declared his initial travel ban, the countries he cited had no Jews because over a million had left those countries in fear for their lives. My God, Jews are leaving France fearful of their future there. There were 20,000 Jews in Turkey when I first went there in 2007. I would question how many have stayed. Certainly their children are being educated in other countries and not returning.
Does anyone think that could ever happen in America? The cynics. Not the rest of us. My experience in the political arena is that others revere us. Then there are the ardent Christians who are more supportive of Israel than many Jews and it is not because of some messianic belief. I have spoken to blacks and Hispanics who wish they could organize their community like the Jews. They would love to have our religious, charitable and educational structure.
That is why when I am driving around stuck in traffic while listening to Christmas music I can be so grateful. And it is not just the Jews. How about the Irish? There are more here than in Ireland. And the Italians. They talk glowingly of Italy and visit there regularly, but they would never give up living in America. How about the newer Americans from Thailand, the Philippines, Africa or Korea? There are challenges for them, but as a group they are so grateful to be here.
America is a magical place. We have embraced people from all over the world into a Christian country, a place where anyone who wants to work hard and has some brains can become extremely successful. Why would we not celebrate this good fortune during the Christmas season? Why would we not revel in our blessings?
God Bless and Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends tomorrow.As a Jew we are going to celebrate as we have forever. We will go to a joyous movie and then eat Chinese food.