Opinion | Susan Knopf: What a Jew knows about Christmas
For the Record
How does the Jewish columnist get the Christmas Eve column? Is that a thing?
I thought about doing an ordinary column. That seemed tone deaf. I work with the Summit Colorado Interfaith Council, and as unbelievable as this may sound, I’ve done a couple of years of Christian Bible study. So let me give this a shot.
Christmas is love. If you don’t believe me, feel free to Google it.
But what is love? That will definitely take more than 700 words. I believe there are quite a few people who would dispute my qualifications to answer.
Since I’m a mom, let me say I think unconditional love is probably the best definition. The mother of the convicted murderer still loves her child.
The people we love may disappoint us. They may harm us. But we still try to love them. I am not suggesting for one minute that you stay in an abusive relationship. Call Building Hope Summit County and let them help you get out.
I’m saying when your 3-year-old kicks you in the shins and says, “I hate you!” you look for a loving way to redirect. Then put a cold pack on that shin.
During the holidays, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are likely to run into loved ones who don’t generally evoke that loving feeling. How do we cope?
Be curious. Ask good questions.
I get lots of hate mail. I respond to most and try to answer the questions. I thank them for their correspondence and thank them for reading. I do block some. Some are really hateful.
But we don’t often block family members.
We have a lot of issues facing us right now. And we’re not always going to agree. But what if you ask that annoying brother-in-law what he would do about COVID-19 if he were president?
I know. You don’t even want to hear the answer. After he gives you the dumbass answer, say, “That’s so funny. Really, what would you do?” And when he finishes, say, “Thanks for sharing. That was really interesting.”
If he asks if you agree, you don’t have to take the bait or get into a harangue. Just say, “I thought some of your ideas were really worth considering.” If he presses, just say, “I’m still thinking about it.”
We have to take down the walls that divide us brick by brick. We are not always going to agree. But we can love one another enough to listen and search for a place in the middle.
The most important issues confronting us have to do with accepting other people’s ideas and choices.
A lot of so-called conservatives would like to roll back the clock and put gays back in the closet. They’d like to take away a woman’s right to choose. And they’d like any person of color to find a place at the back of the line.
It’s not going to happen. But it may be that women who want a right to choose, and people of color who expect equal opportunity, have to do what they have done for more than a century: relocate to a friendly community.
It’s certainly what my family has done. We’re Jewish. The chants in Charlottesville, “Jews will not replace us!” are not new to me. There’s a good reason I live here.
The FBI reports 60% of religious hate crime victims are Jews. Jews are more likely to be the victims of hate crime than all other religions combined. Jews are four times more likely to be the victim of hate crime than Muslims.
The Russians and others are using our social media to destroy our relationships and destroy our country, according to the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. But we each can stop it.
Love. Love is the answer. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Love thy nutty brother-in-law and everybody else with whom you disagree. We’ve got to hang together, or we most certainly will hang apart.
Love. Treat everyone like you’d like to be treated. Or as Hillel said, “Whatever is hateful and distasteful to you, do not do to your fellow man.” Christmas is love.
Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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