Sunday, December 24, 2006

Subliminal Assimilation

I just chanced upon this in the NYTimes.

It reminds me about how every year, my students here in Yeshivot in Israel, express nostalgia and genuine feelings of how they miss the Christmas atmosphere in the US/UK or wherever they come from. These are modern Orthodox studnets who have never stepped out of a Jewish school environment. As a kid, I loved the Christmas TV because they really screened the best movies, but I would not have said that I loved Christmas! When I express my surprise that this is not exactly a Jewish holiday, they respond, with teenage disdain (as if I should lighten up) that it is just the pretty lights and the songs in the shops and malls etc. etc. And I cannot help feeling that they are absolutely unaware just how assimilated they are. How absorbed they are in the culture of a religion that is alien to our own. And the amazing thing is that they don't see it! (Read the article in the NYTimes. Is it innocent or insidious?)

I am I being extreme here?


Anonymous said...

ah yes. I saw that yesterday, read it and almost cried.

Alex Israel said...

The issue isn't just one that is with marginally affiliated Jews such as those described in the NYTimes. I am talking about graduates of the best Yeshiva HS who wax nostalgic about how the Xmas atmosphere is just great. And I have begun to see other areas in which these young adults are incredibly "American" in their entire value system. Yesterday in class a student was arguing quite passionately how the Shoah was a humanitarian and universal, rather than a Jewish, event. It shocks me to hear how large a chunk of the American "narrative" these students swallow!

Aliza said...

With apologies to the insult about to be laid upon my current home, the problem is really America.

In Canada there was almost no nonsense about needing to be a proud Canadian first, or see things the Canadian way, because there is no overpowering nationalism beyond "I am Canadian and __________________".

American nationalism demands precedence over everything else.
Ultimately, if students see themselves as American first and Jewish second, then no wonder that they're "getting into the Christmas spirit".