Will it be a merry Christmas for Palestinian Christians this year? The answer is that it depends who you ask.
According to some the picture is bleak. Take, for example, this report about Santa having to “ditch his sleigh in Egypt and crawl through a smuggling tunnel to bring a little Christmas joy to the Gaza Strip.” Or this piece about new nativity scene sculptures on sale in Bethlehem that sum up local frustrations — they show Joseph, Mary, crib, wise men and large Israeli concrete wall with military watchtower.
Others are more upbeat. The Bintel Blog has already reported that Palestinian hotels are experiencing something of a boom. This article discusses flourishing tourism in Bethlehem, with four times the number of visitors this year than in 2007, and reports on a new event meant to draw people in — the town’s first Christmas rock concert.
Jewish Christmas parties, such as the Matzo Ball, are geared toward straight singles. But tonight, there are also warring gay parties in New York City that are competing for the attention of Jewish gay men.
There’s the third annual “Christmas Eve Jewbilee,” thrown by Jayson Littman of He’Bro, a gay, Jewish networking site. The party will cater to the “young, gay professional” set, as Littman puts it. The gathering, at Hudson Terrace in Midtown, is 21 and up, and there is a $7 cover (10% of the proceeds will go to Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, which serves the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community in Manhattan).
Then there’s “Homo for the Holidays,”, put on by Alan Picus, for the 18 and up crowd. There is no cover and the bash will be held at Splash, a gay bar on West 17th Street.
Littman says his party is for culturally Jewish gay men, who aren’t necessarily practicing, but still want to date other Jews. However, he notes that anyone — straight, lesbians, non-Jews — can attend. “There are a lot of yarmulkes at the party,” he said. “There are Orthodox gays who come to the party. Bartenders will be wearing yarmulkes, too.”
And while you may not meet your future husband, you may just meet that special someone: “I don’t know if any marriages have come from it yet, but it’s still a new party, and marriage is still not legal in New York,” Littman said.
Both parties begin at 9 p.m. on Christmas eve.
During this most wonderful time of the year, when non-Jewish people wish me a Happy Hanukkah with a knowing look in their eyes; I refrain from saying “Seriously, it’s a minor holiday. Merry Christmas, and get back to me on Pesach.” I 100% accept the fact that Christmas is really and truly a Bigger Deal than any other winter holiday; even in New York, where bodegas stock menorahs, December 25 will dwarf all other seasonal celebrations.
But what I don’t accept is watching the vast majority of the country get psyched about Christmas while pundits complain that their day is being taken away from them. It’s enough to bring out my inner Scrooge. Jeffrey Goldberg’s blog tipped me off to this Garrison Keillor piece kvetching about the de-sanctification of Christmas by casting aspersions on Jewish songwriters contributing to the Christmas-song canon:
And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write “Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we’ll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah”? No, we didn’t.
Thanks, Orrin Hatch for the most publicized (first-ever?) Mormon-rendered Hanukkah Song. Conan’s self-proclaimed only Jew Max Weinberg returned the favor last night with a little ditty for the Mormon community to sing at Christmas time. Doubt they will though, since its purpose is to count all the ways in which the singers know nothing about Mormonism besides the names of celebrity Mormons like Katherine Heigl and Mitt Romney: