While Jews outside of Israel know how to avoid and distance themselves from the range of symbols customary in the Christian world during the Xmas holiday season and the secular New Year, in Israel, more and more educational institutions, business organizations and even municipalities present Xmas trees and other Christian symbols in one way or another.
Of late, Yad L’Achim reports receiving many requests for assistance from Jews who have sought to intervene and try to stop these actions.
Some of the persons contacting Yad L’Achim have immigrated to Eretz Yisrael from France, the United States, Britain, or the Commonwealth of Independent States, convinced that they would stay away from the Gentile environment, but their hope was lost on this issue as well.
In the Zalman Aran Junior High School in Rishon L’Tzion, for example, an Xmas tree was placed in a central place, and many parents were furious that seventh grade classes do not teach the Chumash, but the Christian symbol is being emphasized.
Tel Aviv University also decided to place a holiday tree in a central place in the university library. The move was met with protest, even from some of the non-religious students who were not pleased with the “Christmas atmosphere” which they maintain does not match the character of a public Israeli institution.
The municipality of Haifa invited the general public to take part in its “Christmas Tours” during which they would visit local churches, hear about the “customs of the holiday” and even attend a rhythmic meeting with the “Catholic Scouts” who are preparing for the Christian holidays. The municipality even boasts that it is working to “bring religions together,” and unfortunately, its intention in this “approximation” is also for such tours that bring Jews into the centers of idolatry.
Yad L’Achim say that they were shocked to receive the references on the subject. “In recent years the phenomenon has become worse, and it appears that the balance in the public sphere has been undermined and that there is an inexplicable urge to push aside Judaism and instead to show signs of other religions.”
The organization also emphasizes that “the waving of these symbols is even more troubling given the fact that in some cases these bodies do not bother to mark Jewish holidays, such as the Chanukah, which was recently celebrated, but on the other hand, they know how to do it with motifs related to idolatry.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)