Monday, December 6, 2004
Hanukkah and Unitarian Universalism.
There's really no getting around the awkwardness of lighting Hanukkah candles in a church — no matter how gently or forcefully a Unitarian Universalist minister tries to acknowledge or honor the holiday. Sometimes the holiday is bent into almost unrecognizable shape as UUs shoehorn all the winter holidays into the same Jesus-free Dickens-Christmas humanitarianism. The Maccabees singing Kumbayah, and so on. Or there it is, an object on the altar: the flaming chalice replaced for a week by the menorah or chanukiyah, soon to be replaced by the Kwanzaa candles. No wonder some "JewUs" decamp to the synagogue or just stay home during December and around Easter — just as I tend to flee to Episcopalianism during those two seasons. There are times when being all things to all people just doesn't satisfy some of the people.
It's a dilemma I wish I knew how to address more fruitfully. It's an especially acute dilemma for Christian Unitarian Universalists (who often already feel a bit on edge in most UU churches) because our ongoing presence in the UUA can seem to threaten the possibility of the post-Christian Unitarian Universalism that post-traditional or Humanistic Jews and Jews in interfaith marriages find so appealing. Or, to put it simply, can a Unitarian Universalist congregation really celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas without alienating people for whom each holiday holds real meaning?
This week, as we anticipate the start of Hanukkah, the members of the UUs for Jewish Awareness e-mail list have been engaged in a thought-provoking conversation about Unitarian Universalist Hanukkah celebrations. You can sign up and read the messages starting December 3. I don't have any great insights to offer, but I'm committed to the conversation — as a liberal Christian who sees Christian anti-Semitism as an ongoing moral challenge I have to confront, and as a Unitarian Universalist who is deeply grateful for my Jewish friends and co-religionists. Listening, however, is always a good way to begin.
Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 6 December 2004 at 7:52 PM