Is Christmas the appropriate holiday to ask Sarah Palin to stop playing the faux-persecuted Christian card? Or is that Easter?
That’s me, on Facebook, in response to her MLK Day post asking President Obama to promise to stop “playing the race card.”

# Palin # Obama # religion # Facebook # comedy # politics # internet # MLK # holidays # Christmas

Oh, a comedian!

But seriously, my Christmas afternoon and evening involved helping out at the synagogue for the annual Men’s Club Kosher Chinese Buffet. This year, we had more than 125 people in attendance and more entrees than a Friday night dinner at my grandmother’s house.

We set up, we cooked, we ate, we served, we ate, we cleaned, and we ate a little more. My sense is that no one went home even remotely hungry and we still had plenty of food left over to take home and to give to others.

Major thanks is really due to the core crew — especially David, Ben, and Mike who came in early and stayed late — so that a slacker like me could swoop in for a few hours during naptime and after bedtime.

If your synagogue isn’t serving up a ridiculous amount of kosher Chinese food every Christmas, well, you just might want to think about moving to Omaha …

# Christmas # Judaism # holidays # food # Omaha # Nebraska

For How Long?

For how many more days will pretty much everyone I speak to inquire as to whether or not I had a Merry Christmas? Through the weekend? Into next week? Into the new year?

Unrelatedly, how was your Christmas? Merry?

# holidays # Judaism # Christmas # comedy

The Real War on Christmas

I’m currently giving a final exam … in a snowstorm … on December 20.

Happy holidays, students!

# holidays # Christmas # education # teaching # Nebraska

Comforting Sentiments

I’ve seen this poem on Facebook and Tumblr quite a lot over the past week or so. In trying to find more information about it and its author, Cameo Smith, I learned that the poem has even made an appearance on Dr. Phil’s television show [video here] in addition to being shared all over the country and the world via social media:

'Twas 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate. Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there. They were filled with such joy; they didn't know what to say. They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day. “where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. “This is heaven” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God's house”. When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near. He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same. Then He opened His arms and He called them by name. And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring those children all flew into the arms of their King and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face. And as if He could read all the questions she had He gently whispered to her, “I'll take care of mom and dad.” Then He looked down on earth, the world far below He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe, then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand, “Let My power and presence re-enter this land!” May this country be delivered from the hands of fools” “I’m taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!” Then He and the children stood up without a sound. “Come now my children let me show you around.” Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran. All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can. And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, “In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

While its virality makes clear that readings things like this is very comforting to a great many people, and while I’m sure the author had nothing but the best intentions, I think it’s really problematic in at least three ways.

The first is that it seems to suggest that we don’t have to do anything about the problem of gun violence in our society because Jesus says he’s going to take care of it. This is precisely the kind of “All Part of God’s Plan” thinking for which non-religious people rightly criticize religious people all the time.

The second is the mash-up of Church and State called for in the middle of the poem, wherein the author imagines Jesus saying that he’s going to take back this country from which his “power and presence” have been made absent (which sounds a bit too much like Mike Huckabee’s nonsense about how too little religion in schools is the real culprit of crimes like this one) [HT: Allen Stairs].

And the third is that not all the children who were killed in this terrible outburst of violence were Christian. The author simply presumes their Christianity — incorrectly, of course — and I can’t imagine that the non-Christian parents of a murdered child feel particularly comforted by such a non-inclusive message. Some might even be offended.

# religion # guns # kids # Connecticut # Judaism # Christmas # poetry # Facebook # internet # politics

Chinese Food

Tonight, as is our custom, we’ll be eating Chinese food.

Alas, the whole family isn’t feeling well enough to make it to the annual Chinese buffet dinner at our synagogue.

Keeping in mind that meat is not an option in our house, what — specifically — should we order?

# food # holidays # Christmas # Judaism

i kind of don't get your stance on nittel nacht. what do you expect people, who suffered for thousands of years under christendom, to do on the day its (false messianic, in their opinion) founder was born? there's a huge power imbalance that it seems you're ignoring.
fuckyeahsoftzionism

I understand the historical reasons for the things that Jews did on Christmas Eve … especially not going out for a walk when people might attack you. In fact, here’s what I wrote in my original post:

I “get” the fact that Christmas Eve was once a bad time for Jews, an occasion for violence against them as part of the celebration of others.

But I can’t figure out two things:

1. As I wrote in my original post, why “anyone — especially a pious person — might depriving himself of the opportunity to perform a mitzvah in order to better deprive others of any good that might come of it.”

2. Why Jews, especially in America, would continue to “celebrate” Nittle Nacht today when repression and intolerance of Jews is (relatively) so low.

But to answer your question specifically, I suppose that I expect people to do what I did: Spend time with friends and family, watch a movie, read a book, and then head off to bed. I just don’t see any point to working against the spiritual well-being of others, whether or not one is on the receiving end of repression or intolerance.

# Judaism # religion # Christmas # holidays # questions





Peace on Earth: John Lennon and Yoko Ono bought a large billboard in Times Square in 1969 declaring that ‘War is over if you want it’




As millions and millions of children open presents under festively decorated trees in their living rooms this morning, I think we can finally declare this year’s War on Christmas at an end.
Of course, in an enormous mansion somewhere in this great country, Bill O’Reilly is sitting on a pile of money and already preparing for next year’s War on Christmas. It’ll begin just after Halloween, when the first lights go up on people’s houses and trees. And it’ll end, as every year, when the Christmas holiday is celebrated without a hitch.
Every year, Fox News goes wild with the notion that Christians somehow can’t celebrate their holiday as they choose and, every year, a sizeable group of Christians crowd into shopping malls to sit on Santa’s lap while listening to Christmas carols that are playing on a month-long loop; they buy Christmas presents to unwrap under their Christmas trees on a federal holiday that just so happens to coincide with Christmas … all the while lamenting that someone has wished them “Happy Holidays.”
So, remember what John and Yoko told you:
War (on Christmas) is Over … if you want it.

As millions and millions of children open presents under festively decorated trees in their living rooms this morning, I think we can finally declare this year’s War on Christmas at an end.

Of course, in an enormous mansion somewhere in this great country, Bill O’Reilly is sitting on a pile of money and already preparing for next year’s War on Christmas. It’ll begin just after Halloween, when the first lights go up on people’s houses and trees. And it’ll end, as every year, when the Christmas holiday is celebrated without a hitch.

Every year, Fox News goes wild with the notion that Christians somehow can’t celebrate their holiday as they choose and, every year, a sizeable group of Christians crowd into shopping malls to sit on Santa’s lap while listening to Christmas carols that are playing on a month-long loop; they buy Christmas presents to unwrap under their Christmas trees on a federal holiday that just so happens to coincide with Christmas … all the while lamenting that someone has wished them “Happy Holidays.”

So, remember what John and Yoko told you:

War (on Christmas) is Over … if you want it.

# Christmas # music # New York # history # holidays # media

reblogged from Generic Blog
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, Jews were playing dreidel, being celibate, and tearing toilet paper.

There’s something a little bit creepy about the whole idea of a Jewish anti-holiday on Christmas Eve. But apparently “Nittel Nacht” used to be just that.

I mean, I “get” the fact that Christmas Eve was once a bad time for Jews, an occasion for violence against them as part of the celebration of others. Even so, I still want to believe that the most learned rabbis of Europe didn’t really argue against studying Torah on Christmas Eve so as to avoid making any “positive contribution on what they considered a ‘pagan’ night.” Even for the 16th and 17th centuries, that seems incredibly petty and it goes against just about everything I know about Judaism, especially that anyone — especially a pious person — might depriving himself of the opportunity to perform a mitzvah in order to better deprive others of any good that might come of it.

Full article here (HT: Mike Gruszczynski).

I wrote the above post several years ago; perhaps some of the new readers I’ve acquired since that time will know more about this and can shed some light. Otherwise, I’ll remain, as I was back then, a bit disturbed by the whole concept.

# Judaism # religion # holidays # Christmas

reblogged from Ari Kohen's Blog

Perfect In Every Way

excitablehonky replied to your photo: An honest-to-goodness “Jeopardy!” category today….

It was questions about war-related events that occurred on Christmas day.

Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!

Then these would all have been clues about things that Bill O’Reilly wouldn’t have covered on his program devoted to polarizing nonsense.

# television # Christmas # holidays # comedy

An honest-to-goodness “Jeopardy!” category today. And I presume all the questions weren’t, “What is nonsense?”
Somewhere out there, Bill O’Reilly is chortling with satisfaction.
HT: Drew Taub.

An honest-to-goodness “Jeopardy!” category today. And I presume all the questions weren’t, “What is nonsense?”

Somewhere out there, Bill O’Reilly is chortling with satisfaction.

HT: Drew Taub.

# Christmas # television # comedy # holidays

"What’s your favorite holiday Christmas book?"
Looks like someone at the NYT couldn’t decide whether or not the War on Christmas was a serious enough problem this year to warrant “Christmas” or “Holiday” when writing about their favorite Christmas books.

"What’s your favorite holiday Christmas book?"

Looks like someone at the NYT couldn’t decide whether or not the War on Christmas was a serious enough problem this year to warrant “Christmas” or “Holiday” when writing about their favorite Christmas books.

# literature # Christmas # holidays # New York Times

Just in case there’s any question about the point I’ve been making about Fox News and it’s nonsensical, polarizing War on Christmas, Media Matters provides some helpful information:




For the second year in a row, Bill O’Reilly’s coverage of Fox’s non-existent “War on Christmas” dwarfs his coverage of actual conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Gaza. Of course, Bill O’Reilly isn’t the only Fox figure obsessed with the “War on Christmas.” But this is a prime example of how Fox News gets their priorities all wrong when it comes to their version of “news coverage.”





But I suppose someone will tell me that Bill O’Reilly also isn’t part of the news programming at Fox News. So that’s no news in the morning and no news during O’Reilly’s two hours at night.
We’re swiftly running out of options for news programming.
As one of my geniuses wrote in right away about my most recent post about the way that Fox News continues to polarize us:



Morning shows are closer to entertainment with some news thrown in, to judge it by the standards of hard news shows is absurd.



And so are evening shows on Fox News.
The thing is, I’m asserting that Fox News — in its entirety — cannot be judged by the standards by which we judge news-gathering and -reporting organizations. It isn’t one. There’s no news there, just polarizing nonsense.

Just in case there’s any question about the point I’ve been making about Fox News and it’s nonsensical, polarizing War on Christmas, Media Matters provides some helpful information:

For the second year in a row, Bill O’Reilly’s coverage of Fox’s non-existent “War on Christmas” dwarfs his coverage of actual conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Gaza. 

Of course, Bill O’Reilly isn’t the only Fox figure obsessed with the “War on Christmas.” But this is a prime example of how Fox News gets their priorities all wrong when it comes to their version of “news coverage.”

But I suppose someone will tell me that Bill O’Reilly also isn’t part of the news programming at Fox News. So that’s no news in the morning and no news during O’Reilly’s two hours at night.

We’re swiftly running out of options for news programming.

As one of my geniuses wrote in right away about my most recent post about the way that Fox News continues to polarize us:

Morning shows are closer to entertainment with some news thrown in, to judge it by the standards of hard news shows is absurd.

And so are evening shows on Fox News.

The thing is, I’m asserting that Fox News — in its entirety — cannot be judged by the standards by which we judge news-gathering and -reporting organizations. It isn’t one. There’s no news there, just polarizing nonsense.

# Christmas # media # holidays

reblogged from

Polarizing Nonsense

I wrote a whole post just now criticizing Fox News for their annual War on Christmas because it’s exhausting and polarizing.

And the crux of the post was, of course, that for someone who isn’t Christian there’s nothing more obviously fictional than the notion that Christians can’t celebrate their holiday, that the “political correctness” decried by Fox isn’t designed to make the powerful feel weaker but to make minorities feel included, and that the result of Fox’s War on Christmas is to make a whole bunch of people — who are already in the majority by a wide, wide margin — celebrate Christmas more aggressively.

And immediately two geniuses decided that I don’t know what I’m talking about because

1) I clearly don’t understand the difference between Fox News’ entertainment programming and Fox News’ news programming:

This is a damn morning show, not hard news. Learn the difference.

2) The show I must like — but that actually I’ve never watched for even one second — is bad too:

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell shouting over people he disagrees with and then kicking them off of his show is what they consider journalistic integrity.

So, basically, the argument in reply is that the people who are talking about the War on Christmas on Fox News have no journalistic standards. Which is precisely what I claimed at the beginning of my post. But the real point of the post was about how the trumped up War on Christmas exists only in the minds of Fox News and its viewers … but that the result of their constant harping on something that doesn’t exist is further polarizing of people in this country. Which is then demonstrated by the two geniuses who think that Fox News doesn’t have any responsibility to journalism or even to truth-telling.

So, yeah, polarizing nonsense.

Fox News should use that as their new slogan. It’s much more obviously true than Fair and Balanced. And it captures the spirit of what they’re doing and what their viewers have come to expect.

# media # Christmas # holidays # politics # sadness # religion

Fox News, in keeping with the journalistic standards we’ve come to expect, interviews someone named Sal Lizard, dressed in a Santa suit, about the War on Christmas … which Fox News has almost entirely manufactured, as far as I can tell:





Sal Lizard, co-author of Being Santa Clause [sic]: What I Learned about the True Meaning of Christmas, sat down for an interview on Fox & Friends to express his fears about the implications of replacing “merry Christmas” with “happy holidays” as the preferred end-of-year salutation.
“I can’t find any reference where Santa has ever said anything other than ‘merry Christmas,’” Lizard said, as a caption under him read “end the ‘war’ on Christmas.”





Lizard refuses to say “Happy Holidays” because that’s not something that Santa has ever said. Other things Santa probably never historically said, but that Lizard probably says all the time include:
names of any contemporary smart phones
names of anything having to do with the internet
names of any contemporary television program
names of any contemporary car or truck
names of hundreds of toys not made of wood
We could go on like this for a long time.
But, honestly, the reason that Lizard is worried about the War on Christmas is because it gets him interviewed on Fox News, which is likely to increase sales of his book and his bookings for Christmas-related events.
I’ve been to exactly two places today and one of them featured a guy dressed as Santa wishing me a hearty “Merry Christmas!” as he sat beneath a huge Christmas tree. On my drive over here, I passed no less than fifty houses festooned with Christmas lights, as well as a bunch of nativity scenes … in my neighborhood alone.
But heaven forbid anyone says “Happy Holidays” to include me in all this seasonal merriment. That would make life much worse for Christians.

Fox News, in keeping with the journalistic standards we’ve come to expect, interviews someone named Sal Lizard, dressed in a Santa suit, about the War on Christmas … which Fox News has almost entirely manufactured, as far as I can tell:

Sal Lizard, co-author of Being Santa Clause [sic]: What I Learned about the True Meaning of Christmas, sat down for an interview on Fox & Friends to express his fears about the implications of replacing “merry Christmas” with “happy holidays” as the preferred end-of-year salutation.

“I can’t find any reference where Santa has ever said anything other than ‘merry Christmas,’” Lizard said, as a caption under him read “end the ‘war’ on Christmas.”

Lizard refuses to say “Happy Holidays” because that’s not something that Santa has ever said. Other things Santa probably never historically said, but that Lizard probably says all the time include:

  • names of any contemporary smart phones
  • names of anything having to do with the internet
  • names of any contemporary television program
  • names of any contemporary car or truck
  • names of hundreds of toys not made of wood

We could go on like this for a long time.

But, honestly, the reason that Lizard is worried about the War on Christmas is because it gets him interviewed on Fox News, which is likely to increase sales of his book and his bookings for Christmas-related events.

I’ve been to exactly two places today and one of them featured a guy dressed as Santa wishing me a hearty “Merry Christmas!” as he sat beneath a huge Christmas tree. On my drive over here, I passed no less than fifty houses festooned with Christmas lights, as well as a bunch of nativity scenes … in my neighborhood alone.

But heaven forbid anyone says “Happy Holidays” to include me in all this seasonal merriment. That would make life much worse for Christians.

# Christmas # media # comedy # religion

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