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December 13, 1991 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-12-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

OPINION

Sending A Mixed Message

CARLA JEAN SCHWARTZ

Local Columnist

I

usually enjoy browsing in
card shops and reading
humorous birthday, an-
niversary and holiday cards.
But, last week I was hardly
laughing when I saw several
cards that combined Chanu-
kah and Christmas, aimed
for an audience that
celebrates both holidays at
home. The messages in these
combination cards try to be
light-hearted, but they are
serious statements regar-

ding assimilation and ac-
culturation.
The first card I read was
from Dale Cards. Their
motto on the back says,
"They're funny." The il-
lustration on the front was a
Santa Claus wearing a
kippah and holding a meno-
rah. He was embracing a
rabbi carrying a sack of toys
wearing Santa's hat. The
caption read, "Merry
Hanukkah and Happy
Christmas." On the inside,
the card said, "To all." Ex-
cuse me, Mr. Dale, I don't
think this card is funny.

Another card, with an
original design by Skip
Morrow, featured a rabbi
and Santa, both dressed ap-
propriately, holding a meno-
rah. The inside caption said,

"Have a splendid whatever."
Yes, Mr. Morrow, whatever
are we celebrating?

I became offended and
angry when I saw the next
card. A mother, at an open
door, was greeting a rabbi.
She said, " Oh, er Rabbi. We
weren't expecting you this
week." In the background
the father and daughter
were standing next to the
Christmas tree and the
wrapped presents. " Quick !
Throw a coat over it and
maybe he'll think it's a coat
rack." said the father. The
inside read, "Happy Holi-
days to you and yours." The
expression on the daughter's
face was confusion.

These cards are confusing
to me also. They represent
mixed messages. As a Jew-
ish mother, I do not think
mixed messages or confusing
signals are good whether
they relate to religion,
morals or attitudes. A family
either celebrates Christmas
or Chanukah in their home.
When a family puts up a
Christmas tree, no matter
how decorative it is, the tree
represents the holiday of
Christmas, which celebrates
the birth of Jesus Christ. I
believe children should have
a strong identity — either

"QUICK!

Throw a coat
over it and
maybe he'll
think it's
a coat rack."

Christian or Jewish. The
combination is confusing.
There is one child in my
neighborhood who says he is
a "cashew." He says he is
half-Catholic and half-Jew-
ish. Which half? Unfor-
tunately these cards reflect a
society approaching a 50
percent intermarriage rate. I
do know several families
with a converted spouse who

celebrate one holiday in the
home. I applaud them for
sending messages that are
not confusing.
The last card, with the
family shamefully hiding
the Christmas tree from
their rabbi, was produced by
Meshuggenah Greetings.
Meshuggenah is the Yiddish
word for crazy. My sen-
timents exactly. ❑

New Health Tip: Pumping Up Our Jewish Minds

ELLEN GOLUB

Special to The Jewish News

I

am pedaling my heart out
atop of a stationary bicy-
cle because I want to live
a long and healthy life.
Sweat pours from my face.
My heart pounds. "This is so
boring," I tell my neighbor
on the bike beside me, who
nods and pedals, pedals and
nods.
I turn up the volume on my
headphones, scanning the
band for a station with a
strong beat. I count the per-
forations in the suspended
ceiling above me. Multiply
by seven, divide by three. I
watch the second hand as it
meanders around the clock,
and I number the minutes
until I can begin my cool-

Ellen Golub is a writer in
Marblehead, Mass.

down and, God willing, des-
cend from this stupid bike.
Few among us truly love
the process of acquiring car-
diovascular health. We balk
at depositing the half hour,
no less than three times
weekly, which strengthens
our heart muscles and our
stamina. Modern life is fast-
paced and demanding. Who
has the time to pause each
day and pump it up?
But somehow, we find time
because we know that with
every revolution of the
wheel, every hour logged in
on the side of health, we are
bettering our odds at re-
maining longer on this side
of the abyss.
I am invigorated. My heart
muscles must be cheering
me on as I stand in line at
the grocery store with a low
cholesterol dessert to serve
at my father's birthday par-

ty. I cannot help but
overhear a conversation
from two women in front of
me. "It's just too long," says
one.
"You know?" says the
other, "You know, Judaism
is supposed to be family
oriented. Weekends belong
to families. And Hebrew
school shouldn't take them
away."
"You're right," concurs
the first lady, who goes on to
describe aborted ski
weekends and overloaded
kids with soccer practice,
music lessons and
homework. "They really
ought to cut back the hours.
It's just not conducive to
modern life."
As I overhear more of the
conversation, I understand
that there is a petition cir-
culating among parents to
shorten the hours of their

children's Hebrew school.
"They can do their bar mitz-
vahs without Sundays, don't
you think?" one friend says
to the other.
"And without homework,"
adds the friend. "They've got
so much from public school
already."
I am heartsick at this con-
versation. I want to blast
through decorum and grab
them by their shopping
carts. "You wouldn't
presume to tell the public
school how much time to
spend on math," I want to
shout. "Would you tell your
child's English teacher that
he can't possibly stay for his
Shakespeare course on Fri-
day afternoons because
you've got a condo up nor-
th?"
I think much, but I say
nothing. Peoples' Jewish
lives in this society are their

own business. However, I
would wager that these
ladies exercise regularly and
eat properly, that their
families are attuned to the
proper standards to keep
their bodies fit and well.
If we thought carefully, we
would all agree that a
healthy Jewish life is not the
obvious byproduct of a fine
bar mitzvah performance.
Like cardiovascular health,
it can only be something one
works toward as part of an
ongoing and integrated per-
sonal and communal regime.
So how many hours a
week, including warm-up
and cool-down, does it take
to train a Jew? How many
days, year after year, over
the course of a lifetime? It is
an interesting question that
anyone contemplating being
or raising a Jew should con-
sider. ❑

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

7

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