As I was growing up in my little WASPish cocoon in northwest Florida, I could never have imagined chanting Hebrew prayers on Christmas. But that’s exactly what I spent the morning doing today. I attended the Torah study session followed by the regular Shabbat service at Temple Micah.
Interestingly the Torah portion was about the birth of another Jewish baby who was also destined for big things. Instead of lying in a manger, Moses was floating in a little wicker basket among the reeds of the Nile. He would grow up to lead his people to the promised land where Jesus would be born more than a thousand years later.
One of the beauties of having Shabbat and Christmas coincide as they did today was the total absence of traffic. There was literally no one on the roads this morning.
As I got out of my car, my ear picked up the bells of the National Cathedral playing “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” something we would never hear on a regular Shabbat.
There were but 30 or so brave souls who came out to the lay-led service. I found it somewhat curious that our rabbis were given the day off on Christmas, while our African-American custodian, a deacon in his church, was at work. His red sweater was his observance of Christmas.
We will enjoy a beautiful Christmas dinner with friends later today, deciding to put off our traditional dim-sum and a movie for a day less crowded by the Jews and Asians of the metropolitan area.
I’m wishing everyone a day of peace and contentment, regardless of your tradition!