My parents were raised in Israel. They got married young and at an age when most of us are deciding what to do after graduating, they moved to Canada, little ck in tow. Amongst yordim, there’s a saying that implies that you have finally found what it is to be in the galut (the exile, outside of Israel) – the term in Hebrew is “Matsatem et America!” or “You have finally found America.”

When I read of this line of combo Christmas / Chanukah cards I thought to myself, “Ahhh! Matsatem et America!” It seems that American marketers, not content to completely eviscerate any religious meaning from Christmas, have now turned their attention to Jews and the growing segment of mixed Judeo/Christian families. This story is supposed to be one of those warm, fuzzy feel good things that pops up around this time of the year. It is supposed to be about how people deal with tolerance and mutual respect for others. To me however it is a pathetic piece of tripe that totally turns the story and the lessons of Chanukah upside down. But what the hey, us Jews may now feel free to celebrate Chanukah in a way that is completely divorced from the spiritual underpinnings of the holiday, just like our Christian neighbours! Merry Chrismukkah indeed, fellow Hellenists.

Mamash matzanu et America …

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

31 Comments

  • Uh TM, last I checked, Israel wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be visavis the shining example of Jewish living (think: Tel Aviv). I agree with this post. When I decided to embark upon the Baal Tshuvah path, I did so, one of the reasons anyway, was to truly find out what being/living a Jew is like. Not Kosher Style or Woody Allen neurotic humor, but the legal and spiritual parts of Judaism. And it’s so incredibly beautiful, powerful…I also get sad when I see people trying to give it a face life a la politically correct caca like combo holidays.

  • I don’t know, I agree with TM. Even if Israel is not always the most, ahem, spiritually admirable place, if the tendency to syncretize and cash out to other holidays in the Galut bothers you, be a good little Zionist and get your akuz yehudi back to ha-aretz. Nobody is celebrating Chrismukkah in Israel. Not even in Tel Aviv.

  • I like Tel Aviv. I have a problem with Meah Shearim where they send off young men to spit at my wife.

  • Oh my G*d TM. Not everyone in Meah Shearim is hell bent on spitting at your wife! I daresay it was an incident that none of the rabbis in Meah Shearim would approve of. Please cut these people the same slack you would anyone else. F’rinstance, I got robbed by a french canadian last month. This does not mean that all Quebecois are hell bent on robbing me. Please get over this traumatic incident. I bet even your beloved wife doesn’t bellyache about this as much as you do!

    That having been said, I agree that if one wants to avoid the crass consumerism attendant with the winter holidays, one ought to simply go to Israel. But what about the remaining yiddles? Should I give up on them? No. When I see bullshit, I will continue to call “bullshit!” and peeps? Chrismukah is as bullshit as bullshit can be.

  • First of all, I was merely responding to the generalization about Tel Aviv with a generalization.

    Second, enjoy the bellyaching. What, you’d rather talk politics?

    Third, chances are, as Mordechai Richler would tell you, that many French Quebecois don’t like you.

    Fourth, just move the other Yiddles to Israel.

  • I’m not going to join the discussion on either side right now. But I am going to say that the image of “little CK in tow” made me giggle. No offense. It’s just adorable.

  • Funny Meah Shearim is one of the reasons I “returned” or “turned” back towards tradition. Y’know it’s funny, people get all wigged out when Haredim spit, throw things, whatever at folks for not obeying their tzinus ways. But try this in our society….simply wear a I support Bush or something to that effect while hanging out at any university in Canada. Hmmmm, wondering if you walk out alive. Two wrongs don’t make a right, sure. But the Haredim are some of the most passionate, warm and committed Jews I’ve ever had the pleasure of daveing and eating with. Both in Montreal and Jerusalem.

  • I was refering to the fact that secular, post-modern student types have no problem pointing out the “horrors of ultra-religous types” but rarely see that they employ similar actions when their sensibilities are offended.

    Now I don’t know you wife, but if she was:

    a) taking pixs on shabbat
    b) kissing you
    c) wearing inappropriate clothing

    in Mea Shearim, then she suffers the consequences of her actions.

  • I don’t know…I’m by practice a fairly Orthodox Jew, and I while I have respect for the haredim and their refusal to reject Jewish tradition, I still find the whole spitting thing inexcusable.

    The mere fact people are religious does not give them the right to impose their particular vision of the proper religious path on somebody who walks into their turf. This may be taking the analogy too far by comparing spitting and death, but Daniel Pearl was offending the sensibilites of hard-line Muslims in Pakistan by being Jewish. So was his murder just suffering the consequences of his actions?

  • Check this out: Look for Jewish Spitting Blog on Google and Jewlicious comes in number 4. Maspik with the spitting already.

  • Shtreimel,

    1. She wasn’t in Meah Shearim at the time, she was in French Hill where she lived.

    2. It wasn’t Shabbat.

    3. She wasn’t kissing me. She was simply walking down the street.

    4. Define inappropriate clothing. She was wearing a short sleeved shirt. I guess that means she should be stoned.

    5. It doesn’t matter what the reason might be, this is inexcusable behavior. If she were doing something on purpose to offend somebody, I’d understand that person stopping on the street and expressing himself politely. The whole spitting thing is quite rude by any measure. If she had been walking down a central Meah Shearim road wearing a bikini, it would have been rude to spit on her. Period.

    6. I’m not a student. I’ve never spit on anyone, although I recall talking with my mouth full once, and gently spraying my lunch partner with a particle of food. 😉

  • The Muffti and TM seem to be in agreement on more and more as the days go by. Shtreimel, you remind me of a guy I knew who literally thought that women who wore short skirts were partly (wholly?) responsible for what they got. I can’t now issue you a warning that anyone with the handle ‘Shtreimel’ who comes by my part of town will get beaten up and then expect to be excused for beating the hell out of you if you walk nearby.

    As for secular student types, there is no tradition of spitting on Republicans. There isn’t even a tradition of beating them up. There is just a tradition of shaking your head in sadness at the remarkable stupidity. And I certainly wouldn’t go ahead and justify such activities, if they did happen, by saying that campuses are the domain of students so they should accost anyone who represents political stances they disaprove of.

  • But do bay area “secular student types” have a tradition of tearing Bush bumper stickers off cars? I’m on #3 and it’s already partially scraped.

    I agree spitting is inappropriate. But I’m not going to define an entire community by one bad apple (including bay area liberals). Shtreimel, as TM himself is oft to point out, clarifies that these bad apples exist on all sides.

    Reiterating again that spitting is an inappropriate reaction, I think she bears some responsibility for any reasonable reaction she would get about her attire.

    To use the undying example, a woman who is raped was not “asking for it” and there is no way to excuse such a crime by her dress, but along with that, she would be stupid to have been walking alone down a dark alley alone in a bad part of town.

    It’s sometimes possible for both people to be doing the wrong thing.

  • If I were American I’d be a Democrat but even I recognize the fact that one can be stupid regardless of one’s party affiliation…. Having said that I generally leave Republicans alone. It’s those Ayn Rand Society people I can’t stand – I beat them up and steal their lunch money every opportunity I have.

  • Neocon,

    What is an appropriate reaction when somebody is wearing inappropriate attire? What is appropriate attire?

    The solitary bad apple comment is valid, but just a couple of weeks ago we were discussing Jerusalem yeshiva students who spit on Christian clerics. We were also discussing physical intimidation by Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox Jews against women who were working for the Jerusalem municipal government.

    Neither these women nor my wife nor these clerics were doing the wrong thing. They were perceived to be doing the wrong thing by people who apparently felt this gave them permission to act like pigs. I hear what you’re saying; the girl who went to Kobe Bryant’s room was a fool. On the other hand, in my examples above, nobody acted foolishly, they were being themselves in public places.

  • TM:

    I’m not speaking about your wife specifically, because I wasn’t there and I don’t know her. If you go to Meah Shearim you should know what is appropriate dress. If you don’t know, do you research. I don’t want the whole country to be ultra-orthodox, but I have no qualms about giving them, and respecting, their space.

    An appropriate reaction is to tell her she is dressed in an inappropriate manner, or maybe even to ask her to leave.

    I’m sure someone can dig up a littany of things the secular world has done against the orthodox, but it’s just as stupid, because they’re isolated incidents.

    If the whole neighborhood came out and started raining down spittle, that’s a different story.

    CK: Be careful, I find they are usually armed.

  • Isn’t there a law in Israel against assaulting someone with spit?
    Report the incident and demand the authorities monitor this area for hoodlums and stop them with a night in jail(to begin with). I’ll bet none of them are over 25.

    Point is, regardless what prompts this grossly anti-social behavior, the law needs to be enforced equally and aggressively or these behaviors may lead to worse.

    Of course, there is always the justified alternative of kicking their ass yourself on the spot.

  • CK-There’s a whole school of thought that believes that adorableness is forever. Maybe the Muffti has studied that in school? Even if not, I do have to say that I feel your sadness about Chrismukkah, but acknowledge that the creation of cards for such an invented holiday graft does shed some light on contemporary American Judaism. Love it or hate it, first there was the Chanukkah bush, then Hanukah ornaments for the tree, now Chrismukkah cards and the Hanukkah Song. It’s very confusing to be Jewish and modern these days. Is it better for people to not celebrate anything?

  • You can love Haredim,
    and you can love spitting,
    but you can’t love Haredim spitting? What gives?

    seriously,
    and we all know that derech eretz comes before torah,
    and we all know that not everyone has the same manners,
    AND wondering if anyone will get this,
    AND not to judge the specific incident that ck talked about,
    but I think that spitting on someone = wearing immodest clothes in public in Israel. BUT, two wrongs don’t make a right.
    Baruch hashem, two Jews do make peace.

  • Esther wrote: CK-There’s a whole school of thought that believes that adorableness is forever.

    And what? I’m the exception that proves the rule? I’ve been called many things lately – adorable is decidedly not one of them …

  • A short sleeved shirt is IMMODEST?!?!?!?!?! Oh my god, her elbows were showing!

    Welcome to the Taliban.

    Seriously, there was only one party in the wrong here. I cannot believe this is even under discussion. If she had been walking around in her underwear under a coat and exposing herself purposely to Orthodox men as they walked by, you might have a case.

  • Even amongst the Modern Orthodox, short sleeve shirts with exposed elbows is considered immodest. But comparing them or the situation in Israel to the Taliban is, you must admit, a little extreme.

    But of course, as Josh said, derech eretz kadmah leh torah, and spitting at people is not an accepted way of showing your displeasure with their religious practices. Any Rabbi would tell you that. I think if people take exception with what you are saying it’s because you try to extrapolate from an isolated incident some sort of something capable of condemning an entire society – I mean, Lord knows I am no Haredi and even the Modern Orthodox view me with suspicion, but even I know that Haredim aren’t as bad and intolerant as you make them out to be.

  • The problem is that the Christians don’t know what to do with Jews around Christmas time, so they have appointed Hanukah as the “Jewish Christmas”. We’ve got to be pro-active and save Hanukah by giving them a DIFFERENT “Jewish Christmas”. Thus, I have invented Jewsmas. Spread the word!

  • jewish christmas? I mean hey, I love chinee foo. just that there’s no bacon in it, which makes me sad.

    seriously tho, pork dumplings. the world is a beautiful place. (Christmas sux anyways, and we all know our faiths are based on the same Pagan origins, so who cares? beer me.)

    -monkey man,