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OPINION

A Quick Bible Study, Vol. 145: Merry Christmas – ‘Born is the King of Israel’

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Gregorio Borgia

Author's Note: All previous volumes of this series are here. The first 56 volumes are compiled into the book "Bible Study For Those Who Don't Read The Bible." Now, "Part Two," featuring volumes 57-113, is available for sale.

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Merry Christmas! What a joy and privilege to write a study that falls on this glorious day. Hence, I take this opportunity to share the story of a unique Christmas gift bestowed upon me in the 6th grade — a gift that keeps on giving. 

First, the stage is set. I was born in Boston and raised in the suburb of Needham. My parents were Jewish but not religious, and my father hated religion. (See Vol. 15.) Judaism was our heritage, not a faith that we actively practiced except for a handful of Jewish holidays. In our home, there was no Hebrew Bible or any Bible. 

In the 1960s, Needham’s Jewish population was small, so while Christmas dominated the cultural and physical landscape, my family did not partake. Nonetheless, as a child, my mother took me to downtown Boston to meet Santa Claus and experience all the department store windows alive with seasonal splendor.

In the meantime, our family acknowledged the holiday of Hanukkah, and for eight nights, my mother lit the menorah. I recall receiving some presents on the first night, but I mostly remember hearing, “we celebrate Hanukkah, and they celebrate Christmas.”  

Then, at around third grade, I started perceiving Hanukkah as a lame substitute for Christmas and felt left out during “the most wonderful time of the year.” 

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Fast forward to my sixth-grade class as we practiced songs for the annual Christmas concert. At that time, in Needham public schools, no one thought, “this concert might offend Jews.” Among the Christmas carols we perfected was “The First Noel.” Every detail of this moment is entrenched in my memory as I picture myself singing: 

“The First Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.”

Cue my confusion as I thought, “that last verse makes no sense,” and “how can Jesus be born the King of Israel?” 

Compounding my bewilderment, I remembered what Grandma Kahn had told me as she tried to inject some ancestral pride into my young mind. After naming many prominent Jews dead or alive across all professions, she exclaimed, “even Jesus was Jewish” — news I found utterly shocking. Thus, in class while singing Jewish Jesus was “born the King of Israel," my 11-year-old brain wrestled with the question, “Why don’t we celebrate Christmas?

At home, I asked my mother, “Why don’t we believe in Jesus?” — a question motivated more by feeling left out of Christmas than seeking theological truth. Then Gloria Cohen Kahn answered with the only motherly truth she knew: "Because we are Jews, and Jews don’t believe in Jesus.” 

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Accepting her answer, I retreated downstairs, plopped on the floor with my ear next to the “record player” to hear every nuance of the latest Beatle album –“Revolver”– for the umpteen time. (The last song, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” was mind-blowing then and still is today.)  

Speaking of today, whenever I hear “The First Noel” and its last verse, “Born is the King of Israel,” I recall my sixth-grade confusion —  unaware I was receiving a life-long gift that would keep on giving. However, understanding the gift of faith from “Jewish Jesus” was still a decade away — when I was old enough to accept Him without question, reservation or knowledge.  

This study happily concludes with a Christmas Eve story. At age 15, my high school boyfriend invited me to Midnight Mass. My parents gave their permission for what would be my first time inside a church. There, I was spellbound by the visual experience while utterly clueless about what I was observing. However, understanding was irrelevant for I loved being in that beautiful old church aglow in candlelight, hearing holy music, and for the first time in my life, did not feel “left out” of Christmas.  

My dear readers, may the love of Christ be upon you as the world celebrates, “Born is the King of Israel.” Let’s sing it together. Merry Christmas! The mass of Christ. Amen!

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Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, "Bible Study For Those Who Don't Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. “Part 2,”  with the same title, reprints Vols. 57-113. Order it here.  

Myra is also the Executive Director of SignFromGod.org and the National Shroud of Turin Exhibit, two ministries dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. Contact: Twitter @MyraKAdams and MyraAdams01@gmail.com.

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