24 December 2018

"Tis the Season"

16 Tevet 5779

Our sources tell us that one of the reasons for allowing gentiles (ger toshav) to reside in Eretz Yisrael was so that a righteous gentile who wanted to escape his idolatrous environment in order to come closer to Hashem could do so.

I, as a convert to Judaism, knew that it would be much easier to live as a Jew in a place without all the reminders of "where I came from" - without the rush of childhood memories that always accompanied the winter seasonal holidays in America. But, in many discussions about the creeping Christmas takeover in Israel today, the rights and feelings of converts and righteous gentiles are often overlooked.

On this matter, Minister Ariel is so right and I am grateful that he had the courage to say so.

The Knesset will be full of its usual discord rather than Christmas cheer during the week ahead, as Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s gesture to shorten the parliament’s agenda on the Christian holiday faced opposition from the Right.

There are currently only two Christian MKs: Aida Touma-Sliman and Neven Abu Rahmoun of the Joint List. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said it would be wrong for the Knesset to cater to them because it would harm Israel’s Jewish identity.

“The Knesset needs to be a lighthouse for the State of Israel as it displays the Jewish path,” Ariel wrote to Edelstein. “The Jewish state must honor all its residents, but it also must maintain its Jewish character and identity as its supreme value.”

Ariel said it was an especially wrong time to honor Christmas, because international organizations are working to “harm the state’s Jewish character, trample its traditions and make Israel into a state of all its citizens.”
Thank you, Minister Uri Ariel. Yasher koach!

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