Off to Israel on birthright (or am I?)

I am posting from the beautiful King David Lounge at the JFK International Terminal. It is 5:00 PM (EST) and about 3.5 hours after twenty-two of my U-M Hillel students departed on our flight to Israel. Due to some computer problems from Delta Airlines and some computer problems from Northwest Airlines, I sitting at JFK in New York trying to get on a standby flight to the new Ben Gurion Terminal in Israel.

So, hopefully this will be my last post for about 10 days while I am in Israel. I will give an evaluation of the trip when I return.

While I wait to find out whether or not I will get on this flight, some brief thoughts about yesterday’s Christmas holiday:

  • Yesterday (Saturday) there was no mail delivered to my house because it was a national holiday celebrating the birth of the man Christians believe to be the son of God. I am fine with the fact that our Christian nation (70% I’m told) has chosen to select one religion’s religious holiday to make a national holiday, HOWEVER, I never again want to hear that there exists a separation of Church and State in our country. There does not exist a separation of Church and State, nor has there ever.
  • My preference would be to not have everyone (e.g., my bank employees, hotel clerks, operators, customer service reps, and waitresses) wish me “Merry Christmas.” I don’t celebrate that holiday. I also don’t really want them to wish me “Happy Holidays” because they don’t wish me this greeting in the Fall during Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Nor do they wish me that greeting during the Spring for Passover. So why do it now? I also see no reason to wish me a “Season’s Greetings” unless that will be standard practice during each of the four seasons we mark in this part of the world.
  • Finally (I think), if corporations, schools, offices, airports, banks, and the government would make the decision not to display expensive Christmas (or festive winter) decorations imagine how much money would be saved (from the electicity alone). I have no idea how much money the White House, Congress, and local government and cities spend on lights and decorations, but I’m sure it would be money well saved and then used for education.
  • Finally (for sure now), I really don’t see the need to put up the menorah (always smaller than the Christmas tree) just to placate the Jews. Yes, I understand that the mitzvah (commandment) for Hanukkah is to publicize the miracle of Hanukkah (pirsumei nisa in Aramaic), but for some reason I don’t think that President George W. Bush had that mitzvah in mind when he orders the official White House menorah.

Okay, that’s all the post-Christmas ranting for me. Please don’t be offended, I’m just trying to get rid of my traveling angst (30,000 people have experienced the nightmare that is air travel so far this weekend — a number I wish I were not a part of). Thanks Delta and Northwest (oh, and Merry Christmas to you both!)

B’yom Habah Birushalayim — Next Day in Jersualem (or at Least Tel Aviv)…

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |