My dad was in town on business this week, fortunately timed so that he could join me for the first night of Chanukah. He happened to be here with one of his colleagues (who happened to not be Jewish), and asked if he could join us as we lit the Chanukah candles before going to dinner. Of course, I said yes, and so on the first night of Chanukah, there was a nice informal interfaith thingy in my apartment.
At dinner, my dad pressed his associate to tell me about what his son was learning at school. This being the “holiday season” (insert groan), turns out his young son had learned about the “miracle of the oil,” had also learned all about dreidles, and had in fact been playing with one non-stop at home. I happen to think this is fantastic; learning independently about others’ religious and cultural practices is great, fosters tolerance, and doesn’t succumb to the lame and possibly dangerous tendency to combine different religions into some hybrid mishmash.
See here for my earlier thoughts from a few years ago on how dumb people can get at this time of year when it comes to interfaith interactions.
Later during dinner, my dad’s coworker stepped out to take a phone call from his family. When he returned, he told us that he shared with his son that he had joined us for our Chanukah celebrations, to which his son proclaimed “AWH! Lucky you, dad!”
I still can’t get over how awesome this was to hear. For Jews who most often live in the shadow (the big, beautifully lit and great smelling shadow) of the Christmas Tree, it’s nice to know that it’s possible to foster a mutual respect and appreciate of each others’ traditions.