It’s an outdated subject but this is where it all went down. The manger. The star. Bethlehem. J.C.
And yet, for the most part, nothing here. Nada. No blinking lights or ornately decorated trees glimpsed through filmy curtains, no adverts, shopping rush, craze, plastic Santas ho-ho-ho’ing from rooftops, no carolers, egg nogg or office parties.
Growing up in the U.S., I was taught to hold Christmas in disdain. It wasn’t “our religion“; it wasn’t fair that our holiday and our customs were so blatantly overlooked as Christmas hoopla gained the glory. Sure, we got a few symbolic Hannuka songs at the annual Holiday Choir Concert but let’s face it: Put Dreidl Dreidl Dreidl in a side-by-side taste test next to Handel’s Messiah and….well there you have it.
It’s quiet here in Tel Aviv. And sparse. Except for menorahs in storefronts glowing with candlelight after sundown. Or the seasonal appearance of donuts in bakeries, supermarkets and corner kiosks.
I miss the glowy warmth, energy and decor that comes with Christmas season in the U.S. I don’t, however, miss the commercialism or the pressure of gift buying – You have to buy things for others even if you don’t keep “The Other Faith”.
But on an up note, there are always surprises to be found here in HLC around holiday time. Like the rabbi who lit candles, recited blessings and sang Hannuka songs into a microphone at my local supermarket the other night for the benefit of after-work shoppers. Or the “Chabad Hannuka Police”, as I affectionately refer to them, who stop into Tel Aviv restaurants and business venues to offer up candelabras and candles to anyone without.
It’s okay being here. No trees is a good thing. It’s not cool to cut down forests. Eating donuts, on the other hand..
Happy Holidays to Everyone Everywhere. May we all Feel the Warmth And Zest in the New Year.