A Sporting Chanukah


On the third night of Chanukah my true love gave to me, an Olympic swim cap signed by Lenny Krayzelburg, a game of Horse with the Houston Rocket’s Bostjan Nachbar and a chance to be on the set of ESPN’s Cold Pizza.

Thanks to the Center for Sport and Jewish Life’s online Chanukah auction (www.CSJL.org), gift giving just got more interesting. Forget about the tired old Gap sweater, the Best Buy gift card or the basket of peach-smelling lotion. Imagine your son opening a baseball signed by the 2002 World Series Champion Anaheim Angels or your daughter having dinner with Survivor: Africa winner (and nice Jewish boy) Ethan Zohn. In a fund-raising effort, CSJL will be offering these and other sports-themed gifts through Dec. 20. Opening bids range from $36-$400. Items up for auction are not only unique (and tax deductible!), but their sale supports a Jewish cause.

As longtime publisher of The Jewish Sports Connection quarterly, SCJL is a charitable nonprofit organization that promotes Jewish identity and Jewish values through sport. SCJL runs the Association of Jewish Student Athletes, a support network focused on mentoring, and created T.E.A.M., a curriculum for youth athletic groups that incorporates traditional team sport principles and Jewish ideals. In addition to the auction, the center’s Web site features articles on Jewish athletes, a youth page with pieces written by readers age 12-16, and stats from the world of Israeli sports. So this year, don’t strike out with your gifts — place a bid on an item that’s sure to score big points with your loved ones. — Carin Davis, Contributing Writer

Merry Chrismukkah to You

Amy Klein, Managing Editor

A menorah is topped with candy canes, a mini Christmas tree adorned with a Jewish star and a spinning dreidel pictures Frosty the Snowman on one side and the tree on another: These are just some of the “interfaith” pictures featured on the mugs on the gift section of the Chrismukkah Web site (www.chrismukkah.com). Other images — which also adorn T-shirts and holiday cards — include a reindeer with a menorah for antlers, a zayde-slash-santa and other cute combo sayings like “Oy Joy” and “Merry Mazeltov,” which get across the sentiment of both Judaism and Christianity.

“Chrismukkah is a blend of favorite traditions from both Chanukah and Christmas,” writes site founder Ron Gompertz, a Jew, who is married to a Protestant, Michelle. “Michelle and I deeply respect the religious observances of Christmas and Hanukkah as individual holidays,” he writes. “Chrismukkah is not intended to replace either.”

The Gompertzes began observing Chrismukkah officially last year.

Of course they only started celebrating it last year — that was the first time there even was a holiday called Chrismukkah. While the blending of the two December occasions has been a long American tradition, last year is the first time the combo-holiday got an official name. Lexicographers (and readers of The Journal) will recall that Josh Schwartz, young Jewish creator of Fox’s teen campy drama, “The O.C.,” first coined the term for the lead interfaith poster-child character Seth Cohen (Adam Brody). Cohen pestered his entire family to get into the spirit of both holidays.

A national Jewish population survey, conducted by the United Jewish Communities (UJC) in 2000-01 and corroborated by an American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey, counted 5.2 million adult Jews living in the US and found that of all married ones, nearly one-third are married to non-Jews. The UJC poll further reported that nearly half of all Jewish newlyweds within the past five years had chosen non-Jewish spouses.

But this year, with the eight days of Chanukah celebrated from Dec. 8-15, the Jewish holiday ends way before Christmas begins. So maybe we don’t need Chrismukkah after all.