Beginnings

Shepping nachas: (orig. Yiddish) 1. Attending the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations in San Francisco, re-uning with old friends and discovering that this magazine matters to...

...Rudolf and Santa and Bing (Reindeer, Claus and Crosby) make an innocuous trio, and the Nutcracker is sweet...
...I think it is time for the rest of us, those who still feel brooding danger or the sense of displacement, to try to work out our hangups, to try to stop imposing on America and its Christianity images that derive from darker periods of our history...
...Pius XII notwithstanding, the Catholic Church in America is quite likely closer to us than any Church has ever been, and, in general, and despite differences in interests as well as beliefs, we may have less to fear from the churched, from the believers, than we do from the secularists, the ones we used to think were "enlightened...
...At the very least, it is time for us to acknowledge that secularism is no guarantee of anything, and quite often goes hand-in-hand with contempt for those who still find meaning and comfort in religious identification...
...Most likely, few of us feel that we need to deprecate Christmas in order to establish the merits of Chanukah...
...3. Reading Mort Levy's story which appears in this issue...
...And there are others among us whose memories are less sinister, but who nonetheless find the Christmas season a time of profound alienation from America...
...The creche and the Virgin, the infant so tender and mildóall that is profoundly unnerving, and we understand, even if the merchants and the promoters do not, that these are what this time is about for our neighbors...
...Why not make our response to this season a response to those wishes, rather than to dismal memories and gloomy expectations...
...It is a rare coincidence, and one which dramatically highlights what Milton Himmelfarb has called our annual "cycle of unease...
...So we have come to develop a glib patois to deal with our children: we've got eight days, they've got only one...
...Yiddish) 1. Attending the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations in San Francisco, re-uning with old friends and discovering that this magazine matters to people...
...its central merit is that it is ours...
...And celebrate Chanukah not as an exercise in one-upsmanship, but as the joyous remembrance it is meant to be...
...2. Being informed by an alumnus of one medium-sized university that he will, under the moment College Program, provide subscriptions to all entering freshmen at his alma mater...
...This is not the first time we've been partners in such a distribution, and we've heard from other sources that moment is known and welcomed by "various cultural groups" in the USSR...
...But there are those of us who remember other times and other places, times and places when it was dangerous for Jewish children to be out after dark, when Jewish parents felt constrained to insure that their children would not go stir-crazy and hence began to buy gifts for them, suggesting a competition between Christmas gift-giving and Chanukah gift-giving that is only, or was only, a small part of the real story...
...But commercialization of religion is no benefit either...
...Only Scrooge could object to the jollity...
...Should you be planning a trip, and if you expect in the course of that trip to be meeting with "various cultural groups," do let us know, and we'll supply you with copies of some of our more recent issues to distribute there...
...No charge...
...this is our celebration of the world's first demand for reg-ligious freedom...
...The central merit of Chanukah is, of course, not a comparative or relative merit...
...Still, there is no time when we are more manifestly caused to recognize that we are a minority, and a tiny one at that, than this time...
...Illust: One new friend informed us that moment is the only one of the thirty or so magazines to which he subscribes which he refuses to lend to anyone...
...Only twice before in this century (and never again after this year) has the first night of Chanukah coincided with Christmas eve...
...If the young do not feel the tension, good for them...
...And Christmas, though it may always make us a bit queasy, is, withal, theirs, "they" being our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, whose wishes are for peace on earth and good will toward man...
...I do not know whether the unease is as sharp for younger Jews, whose memories of Christmas are avuncular rather than inquisitorial...
...Suddenly, as it were, we are forcibly reminded that this is a Christian country after all, and that it is only a piece of luck that the merchants write xmas instead of Christmas...
...Chag Sameach...
...syn:gem) We received a letter the other day in which a subscriber reports that he distributed a number of copies of moment to "various cultural groups" in the Soviet Union during the course of a visit to that country...

Vol. 4 • December 1978 • No. 2


 
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