By: Sarah Mack
My son is obsessed with wreaths.
What are they made of? Do they have to be round? Can you ever have a square wreath? Could we put one on our door? Look Mama, I made a wreath out of Legos!
I have to admit that these questions defied my rabbinic knowledge. So I turned to a tractate on Google. It seems that wreaths are thousands of years old, have pagan roots, were adopted by Christianity, and signify resurrection. They are also part of harvest festivals and memorials among other things. In other words, wreaths mean many different things to different groups of people. And no, honey, I do not think we can put a wreath on our front door.
But we can enjoy other people’s wreaths as they celebrate Christmas. Thus was born our car game: as we drive, the first person to see a wreath shouts a silly word out loud. (Other parents of five year old boys will surely understand.)
In my mind, this discussion of wreaths holds within it a central lesson of being a Jew in America. We have our own festivals and holy days that bring us joy and spiritual meaning. But that does not mean we cannot learn about our neighbor’s holidays and share their joy in celebration.
For some of us, Christmas may involve Chinese food and a movie. For others it may mean gathering at the Christmas celebration of friends or family or an opportunity to volunteer. Whatever December 25th brings for us this year, may we be reminded of blessings of living in a multicultural society where all may worship in freedom.