These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Christmas in Israel

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Shibley

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I along with what I imagine must be many Americans, Jewish and non, have at some point contemplated what Christmas in Israel looks like. Having just experienced it, I can tell you that for the most part it looks like any other day. Since Shabbat and Christmas coincided this year, I can really only say that Shabbat was Shabbat without any Christmas influences.

I can count on one hand the number of Christmas trees that I saw this year, and both of them were in the Old City near Jaffa Gate. Really it shouldn’t be surprising that that was the location given the fact that Jaffa Gate is bordered on one side by the Christian quarter and the Armenian quarter on the other. You might say that this indicates a lack of multi-culturalism. However, my response is as follows: You don’t see Sukkot decorations being sold on the streets of the United States, a place where multi-cultural values are highly touted, but the differing cultures don’t live anywhere near as close together as they do in Israel.

On a personal level, this was the first year not being in my living room with my family on Christmas morning, Shabbat or otherwise. It was quite difficult knowing that I was rather far away from something that I have enjoyed for many years.