The Shmooze

The Case For (and Against) Watching Christmas Movies

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share

Should Jewish parents let their kids watch Christmas television specials? Maybe, writes Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick in a column yesterday. On the one hand, “one needn’t be virulently anti-Christmas to experience the seasonal anxiety felt by parents who want their children to enjoy the winter holidays while avoiding religious indoctrination,” she contends. And characters like the Grinch are stand-ins for “grumpy old Jews,” Lithwick writes, akin to dragging kids “to see The Merchant of Venice.” On the other, Jewish parents find all kinds of rationalizations to allow their offspring to tune into “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and “The Year Without a Santa Claus.”

“Ask them why these movies pass muster and prepare for whomping exhibitions of illogic as only the People of the Book can practice it,” Lithwick writes. After sending out e-mails to friends about their Yuletide viewing regulations, the columnist learns “that there exists an unspoken ‘no Jesus’ rule, a ‘no Santa’ rule [thus no “Rudolph”], a ‘no saints’ rule [thus no “Night Before Christmas”], a ‘no resurrections’ rule [even if it’s resurrection by proxy; thus no “Frosty”], and also a ‘no bad music’ rule [thus no “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special”].” Regardless, all Jewish children are apparently allowed to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Lithwick observes, rendering all of the viewing regulations irrelevant.

So what should Lithwick tell her own toddlers about “the sudden appearance of Santa in their lives?” The question remains unanswered. But as Lithwick learns after screening “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” maybe there aren’t such big differences between us and them anyway. As she puts it: “Rudolph’s immortal words to Hermey the Misfit Elf may be said to poignantly encapsulate 5,000 years of Jewish aspiration: ‘Goodbye, Hermey. Whatever a dentist is, I hope someday you will be the greatest!’”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jew, Hermey, Christmas, Dahlia Lithwick, Charlie Brown

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.