Hanukkah begins tomorrow at sundown and continues through the following Sunday. If you don’t remember much about this at-one-time-lesser Jewish holiday, here’s a good resource from the History Channel.
Yes, by all accounts Hanukkah was once a very minor celebration on the Jewish calendar, certainly not one of the holy days. But no longer. Jews, it seems, have a Hanukkah problem. The thing has spun out of control.
The Religious News Service tells the story of the Jews’ Hanukkah problem in an article picked up here in the Washington Post and elsewhere. The RNS reporters interviewed Ayelet Waldman, a Jewish mother of four and author who says, “I loathe Hanukkah.” From the article: Hanukkah, she says, has become a kind of faux Christmas, “a sad imitation complete with six-starred stringed lights, sugar cookies, and themed wrapping paper. I celebrate it only because my children would be crushed, and because I don’t want them to be so envious that they convert.“
Please, Ms Waldman, don’t allow your kids to convert.
Like most American parents, Ayelet Waldman faces the reality that the culture is holding our children hostage and demanding an exorbitant ransom. We’ll get to see our kids, even have some visitation rights, if we do exactly what we’re told. In this case it has to do with allowing the ancient god Mammon, materialism, to infect them with his virus – a disease of addiction, greed, that is satisfied only with higher and higher hits of a deadly narcotic called indulgence.
Apparently some good Jewish parents like Ms Ayelet are afraid that if they don’t acquiesce to Mammon’s ultimatum, another one of the virus’ symptoms, envy, will cause them to convert to Christianity, where they will delight in all the
joys excesses of a real Christmas – no more the pale imitation called Hanukkah.
Ayelet Waldman, don’t believe the threats. First, Mammon will never allow your kids to convert to Christianity. They will convert to Mammon worship. Too many Christians know from our own sad experience that “you can’t serve God and Mammon.” The Christmas your children see is our thinly disguised version of Mammon-fest, exactly what your Hanukkah is becoming. Don’t loathe Hanukkah, loathe Mammon-fest.
And what shall we do about envy and greed? I think it’s a matter of yes and no.
Envy is best treated with heavy doses of yes – yes to who we are and what that means. Ms Waldman, tell you children that they are Jews and that to say yes to being Jewish is to acknowledge that you will always be different. Mammon and his cultural cohort will tell you it is a bad difference; don’t believe them. We Christians have much to learn from you about saying yes to who we are.
“No” is the only known antidote to greed. It must be administered consistently. Every time you notice greed growing in your child’s life, please say no. You don’t have to be angry or threatening. In fact, what too many parents fail to recognize is that no is one of the kindest and most loving words in a mother’s or father’s vocabulary. Oh, a greed-infected child will fight back (maybe even threaten to convert), but in all the clinical trials a firm and loving no has proven to be 100% effective over the course of treatment.
The truth of the matter is, we Christians need to learn more about Hanukkah and, especially, about the important Jewish holidays and what they mean. Apologies are still due for those too many times when we have rejected and hurt the Jews for being different from the rest of us in a godly way. It would be nice, some day, to be able to share with the likes of Ayelet Waldman what we understand Christmas, and especially Easter, to mean. And, yes, conversion to the realization that all the promises of God find their yes in Christ would be a very good thing.
For now, though, we share a common enemy with good Jewish parents who see their children being threatened by Mammon-fest whether it goes by the name of Hanukkah, Christmas, Xmas or just the “happy holiday,” which really isn’t very happy.