It’s that time of year again. The time when stores play sexy gospel choir versions of Jingle Bells on a loop, tinsel is draped over cheap crap and the most repugnant Jews to be found outside of a porn convention write essays about how much they love Christmas.
I never know why people take Dennis Prager seriously. It has to be some kind of joke that Christians are playing on Jews by picking the dumbest Jew they could find and pretending that he’s a thinker.
Prager doesn’t think. He’s a well meaning but dimwitted man who says pleasant things that are as deep as a greeting card. Usually it’s inoffensive. Prager is a Jewish Bill Cosby, the sitcom version not the real life version. If your grandma would knit it on a sampler, Prager is capable of expressing it. If there’s a dumb idea most people carry around, Prager will barf it up. The trouble is that Prager’s brand is Jewishness and he’s as Jewish as a ham sandwich on rye.
Being an ass, Prager can’t help but join the herd and write an article about how much he loves Christmas. And being an ass who trades on his Jewish roots to Christians, the damn thing is titled, “Why this Yeshiva Boy loves Christmas.”
Young Prager was in Morocco when he realized that he missed Christmas. A smart man would put that down to a generalized homesickness for all things American. But Prager spent years “thinking” about this phenomenon and coming to “conclusions”.
Growing up in an Orthodox Jewish home and in yeshivas (Orthodox religious schools where half the day was devoted to religious, and half the day to secular, studies), I had, of course, never celebrated Christmas. How, then, could I miss something that I had never had? How could I, raised in an Orthodox Jewish world, miss the quintessential Christian holiday?
I subsequently spent a lot of time reflecting on why this yeshiva boy would miss the Christmas season.
Answer 1. You’re homesick
Answer 2. You’re a bad Jew
But Young Prager could have been excused on 2 for being young. Old Prager has no such excuse. He’s just a bad Jew.
I came to two life-changing realizations.
Dennis Prager uses “life-changing realizations” the way other people yawn. Every damn thing is a life-changing realization for him.
“Honey, we’re out of raspberry yogurt. And that’s a life-changing realization because why are we so driven to need yogurt. What is yogurt anyway? And where do we go when we die? Will there be yogurt there?”
First, though my yeshiva world did everything possible to ignore Christmas — we had school on Christmas Day, and we had a “midwinter vacation” at the end of January instead of a Christmas vacation — I really liked the Christmas season.
Being a bad Jew is a life-changing realization, but Prager is not aware that he’s a bad Jew. So there is no life-changing realization.
He’s the teenager who realizes he likes ham and wants to keep on eating it, but doesn’t understand the implications of that.
My world in New York had consisted of an Orthodox home, Orthodox synagogue, Orthodox yeshiva, and Orthodox friends. In that world, one’s American identity was never denigrated, but it was largely ignored. And Christianity was entirely ignored (though it was an annual ritual in my home to watch the midnight Mass from Rome).
Dude, if your home had an annual tradition of watching the mass from Rome you were not Orthodox.
And what the hell does watching the mass from Rome have to do with an American identity? Most protestants in 1923 would say you were less American for it.
Until I was in college, my contact with Christianity was almost nonexistent — except for Christmas decorations and Christmas music. Morocco made me realize that I missed something Christian and that I felt profoundly American.
And that’s the point where you should have just converted and gotten it over with.
Also Americans don’t talk about feeling profoundly American. Anyone who talks like that is an immigrant who thinks that he feels profoundly American every time he goes to watch the fireworks go off on the Fourth.
As the years passed, I came to treasure this season and to fall in love with America and its distinctive values (what I call the American Trinity: Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum). While director of a Jewish institution from 1978 to 1983, I volunteered to be Santa Claus for the Simi Valley Rotary Club, of which I was a member. So, during the same week that I led Sabbath services and study for about a thousand Jews, I also went to my Rotary Club meeting (what is more American than the Rotary Club?), and I was the Santa Claus for a local department store.
I’m not sure but I think this is why we used to have stonings. But you can’t stone a man whose head is already an impenetrable rock.
It is that season now, and I never fail to get goose bumps when I hear Burl Ives sing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” let alone when I attend a performance of Handel’s Messiah, surely the greatest religious music ever composed. I love hearing people wish each other “Merry Christmas.” When my Jewish-day-school-attending children were young, I used to take them to see homes that had particularly beautiful Christmas lights.
Confessions of a shallow man #123.
Prager thinks this is meaningful when it’s just embarrassing. There’s no larger message here except that Prager’s parents failed to pass down their religion to their son and their son is failing to pass it down to his children. It’s the quintessential failure of American Liberal Jews on display here.
And yes despite Dennis Prager getting a candy cane in his pants for Christmas, he’s still a Liberal Jew and a secularist who is too dumb to realize these “life changing realizations”.
Those who wish to remove Christmas trees from banks and colleges and other places where Americans gather are not only attempting to rob the 90 percent of Americans who celebrate Christmas of their holiday, they are robbing this Jew, too.
This Jew has already been robbed of his Jewishness. There’s nothing left to rob him of but his lame adoration of the secularized trappings of a Christian holiday.
And I first realized all this in a Muslim country.
And somewhere in Milwaukee, a Jew from Morocco realized that he really does miss the sound of the Muslim Call to Prayer.