Best Of The Web
“One of the biggest highlights of my family’s yearly calendar is our end-of-December trip to Nazareth. Every year, we travel from our home in Tel Aviv with the kids—and sometimes friends, too—to view the splendor of the huge Christmas tree at Mary’s Well Square in Israel’s largest Arab city, which just happens to be the historical hometown of Jesus.
We’re Jewish. We don’t really have a clue about Christian theology or care about the beautiful family values of Christianity’s top holiday. We just love Christmas—for all of the most superficial reasons. We love to gaze at the huge decorated shimmering tree and to listen to the holiday’s greatest hits mixtape blasting out of the local PA system. We love to spread Christmas cheer through social media by uploading adorable photos of our kids in cheap Santa caps purchased from Nazareth’s Christmas market. We love to go visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, just because it’s so damn beautiful. And we love to finish this yearly daytrip off with a hearty Arab dinner of lamb shoulder at one of the city’s traditional restaurants—which over the years has become our very own version of Christmas dinner.
When we’re done with Nazareth, we visit another large fake Christmas tree: the one standing in Clock Square in Jaffa. It’s smaller and not quite as impressive, but it has it’s own advantages. It’s just a short bus ride away from our house, so we can go after school, eat hummus in Jaffa, and be back before bath time.
This is what you could call Christmas envy. We love the holiday, even knowing it’s not ours. And our family isn’t the only one. Each year, more and more secular Jewish Israelis who celebrate Christmas—as a commercial event, if not a religious holiday—come out of the closet. The kids aren’t taught anything about it at school—it’s not our holiday—and we, the parents, don’t know much about it either, but we all know one thing: It’s superfun!
Being the place where Jesus was born, the Holy Land is obviously big on Christmas tourism. I read on an online Israeli tourism website that Christmas in Israel is on many Christians’ bucket list. People travel from all over the world to celebrate Christmas in one of Israel’s major Christian sites—to experience the holiness of Midnight Mass (in Latin) at the Church of St. Catherine in Bethlehem or walk down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem’s Old City. But for secular Jewish Israelis who enjoy Christmas, the holiday isn’t about Israel’s Christian holy sites. We love the Christmas lights of Nazareth and Jaffa, but only because they remind us of London or New York—and frankly, we would much rather have a white Christmas at Rockefeller Center (which is on our own bucket list).”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"As Europe moved toward war in the summer of 1914, two battleships were being built for the Ottoman Empire in British shipyards. Worried about signs of an Ottoman-German alliance, Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, seized the..."
"For most of this year, Joe Biden has strutted across stages in New Hampshire and Iowa, and at swanky fundraisers in New York and California, as if he were already the Democratic nominee. Questions about attacks from his rivals were, more often..."
"A vast city that may have had as many as 1,500 to 3,000 inhabitants in its heyday 9,000 years ago was part of a sprawling Neolithic network of barter. Fresh findings in the mega site at Motza, the Jerusalem foothills, include an obsidian blade..."
"Befitting Stranger Things’ loving ode to the ’80s, the golden age of merchandising, there sure is a lot of Stranger Things crap for sale. Need a copy of Hopper’s Magnum P.I.–inspired Hawaiian shirt for your own date night? Provided you’re not...."
"Big Government lobbyists and entrenched bureaucrats are predictably hysterical about a common-sense congressional push to improve transparency and accountability about wasteful taxpayer-funded monkey experiments. They’re worried that once..."
"The economic summit in Bahrain organized by the Trump administration last month was the latest example of how Israel’s hi-tech industry created new diplomatic opportunities for a country with no apparent natural resources. While Israel had no..."
"The early ‘90s, famously, saw the “End of History,” as it was dubbed by the right-Hegelian political theorist Francis Fukuyama. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus the ostensibly final victory of capitalism and liberal democracy..."
"“Almost all books of aphorisms, which have ever acquired a reputation, have retained it,” John Stuart Mill wrote in 1837, aphoristically—that is to say, with a neat if slightly dubious finality. (“How wofully the reverse is the case with systems..."
"While we can easily misjudge, misunderstand, or even avoid a pregnant individual’s experience of miscarriage, we can also forget that the loss of a pregnancy may impact a wide range of other people too. There’s usually one other person..."
"I have never tried psychedelic drugs, but I imagine the experience is a lot like drinking a Starbucks Frappuccino. Strange sensations, unnatural colors, increased heart rate, heightened emotions, paranoia: It’s all there in that plastic cup..."
"Fifty years ago this week, more than a million Americans drove, flew and even boated to Florida’s Cape Canaveral to witness the launch of Apollo 11, which would culminate four days later on July 20, 1969, with America’s victory over the Soviet..."
"The incidents now pass without much notice, a steady, familiar drumbeat of violence and hate targeting visibly Jewish people in New York City. Early on the morning of June 15, a Saturday, two men in a white Infiniti drove around Borough Park..."