A conversation turns uncomfortable the minute someone replies “I’m Jewish” after “Merry Christmas.”
Often, the Christian person will say “I’m sorry” and an awkward silence follows. It is as if we did kill him even after the pope has rescinded the blood libel.
Thing is, it is true that we do not believe Jesus is God, but we don’t have to. He was a Jewish and somehow as a result of his personality his disciples took the Torah and spread it to the world. He was a philosopher that was turned into a God but what he taught and what he said, taken out of religious context is what he learned from the Talmud and Buddhism and it is right there with Gandhi, Aristotle and Confucius. Seems silly for Jews to not speak his name as some ultra-orthodox choose to, or to turn the nose up at Christmas. People of the world took his teachings and made him the ultimate example of how to lead a life. They believe he is a God and Jews do not, is that that big of a deal? Were they not persecuted by Romans? His teachings caught the eye of Mohammad and gave rise to Islam, taking the Arab world from paganism to morality. They are still working on it but they have only had 1500 years where as Jews have had thousands to digest the teachings of Moses.
So sure, to Jews, there is none more important than Moses as the only one to have talked to God (not even Jesus did that). Sure Moses got the laws from God and wrote them down for man, but they sat and marinated among the Jews who traveled far and wide showing the world the possibility of one God and a moral system that can keep even a small population alive in tough times and allow even the smallest minority to thrive and prosper. Jesus however, he did it for the world, he took the Talmud and the Torah and shone light on the two.
So next year, instead of pretending there was no Jesus and making Christians uncomfortable, say Merry Christmas even if you don’t believe in Virgin Mary or the Son of God, all you have to believe is that he was a Jewish and he changed the world like no other Jew before or since and there is no man that had become more important in the world as an example and as support.
Next time, say Merry Christmas, because we ought not be ashamed of Jesus but admire him and be proud of him as we are of Freud, Einstein, Maimonides, Disraeli and so many other Jews that changed the world. It was thanks to this carpenter that the world changed from a pagan world to one of a little more rationality and morality.