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The true story of why a rabbi hosted a Christmas party
The true story of why a rabbi hosted a Christmas party

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categoriesTypes, Speeches
Published by: Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor on Oct 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The rabbi’s Christmas
ByRabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor  · December 28, 2009
NEW YORK (JTA) -- For the past 25 years on Passover, my wife and I have hosted a first night Seder for our friends.While the main attraction is often my spouse’s remarkable talents in the kitchen, for us it is about sharing thedeep meaning of this festival with friends –- many of whom are not Jewish.Our hope each year is to make the festival meaningful for others as it is for us, while permitting guests tobring their own special gifts and make beautiful contributions to our celebration. Each year we learn as muchas we teach, and we expand our understanding of other religious traditions, as we get to teach about our own faith and share our joy at our festival of freedom.While year in and year out we gain new friends at the table and miss the company of others, there arecertain regulars without whom we could no longer imagine our first night seders. Chief among them are theChristian family that lives next door.The parents moved here from Germany about 20 years ago, and with them are four children, two of whomare close in age to two of our three. The relationship has grown so close that we removed the fence thatdivided our backyards.While they share Passover and Chanukah with us, we share Christmas with them.Each year, we look forward to joining with them in their home at Christmas, to witness how meaningful themoment is for them. And each year they open the doors to their home for a marvelous array of Germanbaked goods and traditional foods. We love to see their joy and help them celebrate a profound event intheir lives.This year, there was a particular challenge. At the last minute, our neighbors -- like us, the owners of an oldbrownstone -- discovered that work had to be done and they would be unable to open their home as usual.When she heard this, my wife immediately offered our home.But, I thought, “How can a rabbi host a Christmas party?”While they were reticent to take us up on the offer, I explained that we really meant it. And if it was aChristmas celebration, it was their celebration -- just temporarily in our house. I looked forward to helping our friends continue their tradition and making their holiday available to them in the way they want to celebrate.They do the same for me every Passover. Part of the preparation each year for our annual Passover celebration requires that we rid our house of all “chametz,” leavened products that are banned during theholiday. Many of the foods that contain chametz we bring to local food pantries. But some of it cannot be just

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