Sunday, December 19, 2004

Hanukah at the White House

Dennis Prager has a wonderful experience to relate to all americans, but especially to Jewish-Americans. He talks of attending a Hanukah celebration at the White House:
It is an incredible blessing to be an American Jew (or "Jewish American" — both terms are accurate). We are doubly blessed. An Israeli interviewer once asked if I were first a Jew or an American, "I have two fathers," I said. "George Washington and the patriarch Abraham." So to be one of about 200 Jews invited to celebrate Hanukkah at the White House with the president of the United States was about as profound a personal moment as I have experienced. My two loves -- America and Judaism -- in one place, reinforcing each other.

I suspect that this feeling was shared by just about every Jew present, including bearded Orthodox rabbis heretofore not prone to affirming any non-Jewish national identity. As a yeshiva graduate, I never thought I would live to see identifying Jews, let alone Orthodox rabbis, so happy to be in a room with a menorah and a Christmas tree. Yet that signified a sea change taking place in American Jewish life — the realization that Christianity is no longer the enemy or the great Other but, for the first time in 2,000 years, a great ally.
Go get the full dose, as it will make feel very proud to be an American.