Can Hanukkah and Christmas Live in the Same House?
By Justin Kron
Once upon a time it was unthinkable for a Jewish man or woman to even consider marrying someone who wasn’t Jewish. But today, in the United States, Jewish people are marrying outside of the Jewish community about as often as they’re marrying within it. The Jewish community is understandably alarmed and most traditional rabbis won’t marry a couple of mixed faith. I’ll never forget when my uncle married a non-Jewish woman only a few years ago. It caused incredible conflict within the extended family.
Despite the Jewish community’s uneasiness with interfaith marriages,we are being forced to come to grips with them. Those making the interfaith marital journey are finding that the challenges, some of which were no doubt unforeseen, are harder than first thought. This is especially true when the holidays come around. Will my spouse want a Christmas tree? Will he want to light the menorah? Will she feel uncomfortable if we go see “A Christmas Carol?” What if my mother makes ham for Christmas dinner?
Is it even reasonable to think that Christmas and Hanukkah can live in the same house?
My aunt and uncle seem to have found a workable resolution for their cultural and religious differences. If you were to pass by their home during the month of December, you would see that one side of the house is adorned with multi-colored Christmas lights. The other side of the house sports bright, blue-and-white Hanukkah bulbs. It is an outward expression of their inward reality—you have your traditions and I have mine. I have my religion and you have yours.
I would like to suggest another way. For when we’ve peeled away the colorful exteriors, we find that Christmas and Hanukkah are integrally related. Both of them point us toward a God who works marvelous miracles that affect us all.
Hanukkah is about God’s faithfulness in delivering the Israelites from their Syrian oppressors in 165 BCE. What’s the connection with Christmas, you might ask?
What if the Syrians had destroyed the Israelites? Would there have been a baby in a Bethlehem manger 165 years later? Think about it! Without Hanukkah, there wouldn’t be any Christmas story to be told.
Furthermore, Christmas and Hanukkah are bound together by God’s promise to Abraham to bless all the nations of the earth through Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 12:1-3).
God shed more light upon this promise through the prophet Micah, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times. His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace” (Micah 5:2,4-5).
Had God not enabled the Israelites to prevail over the Syrians, Micah’s prophecy could not have come to fruition.
Can Christmas and Hanukkah live in the same house? They can, but only when we begin by asking Jesus the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, to make Himself at home in our lives.