Is there a Jewish blessing for Christmas?
I know that my synagogue community will be celebrating in many different ways tonight and tomorrow. For all of my Christian friends, and for everyone within our community who celebrates Christmas, including our Christian parents devotedly raising Jewish children in our school, may this holiday bring you joy, wonder, and light. For the rest of us not celebrating Christmas, but perhaps participating in that ancient Jewish tradition of Chinese food and a movie, or spending the day with your Christian loved ones, may it be a time to relax, enjoy, and appreciate the unique blessings of being a Jew in America today. (Since tomorrow evening is both Christmas and Shabbat, we’ll be enjoying a special Chinese food Shabbat dinner at Beth David tomorrow at 6:30 pm – it’s not too late to call the office and let us know you’ll be coming!)
Our sages taught that a person should say 100 blessings each day – and so yes, I think that there is room within that 100 to say a blessing for Christmas. I offer you these two blessings I wrote to share at your dinner table tonight or tomorrow night. I’d love to hear from you whether either of these prayers reflects your Jewish experience on Christmas, or whether you have other ideas about how we might think about this day
Blessing for Eating Chinese Food on Christmas
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, who has helped the Jewish community to flourish in this great country, the United States of America. We are conscious of the many times in our people’s history when we were persecuted by the majority culture, and of the places in our world today where minorities are still persecuted for their beliefs. So we give thanks especially tonight for the blessing of living in an open and cosmopolitan society, where our right to practice as Jews is secure, and where our differences need not separate us from our neighbors.
We pray that our Christian friends and family members may find joy and blessing on their holiday. May the spirit of generosity that characterizes their holiday season inspire all in our country to work more fervently for justice.
Eternal our God, tonight we express our gratitude for the way this country has embraced our immigrant ancestors as well as so many other immigrant groups, and for the ways our lives are enriched living in such a diverse society. May this meal be a tribute both to our right to be different, and to our delight in sharing in other cultures
בָּרוּךְ אַתָה, יְיָ, שׁוֹמֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַד.
Baruch Atah Adonai, Shomer Yisrael laad.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Guardian of Israel.
Blessing for Sharing Christmas Dinner with Family or Friends
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, who brings your children together from different faiths to share a meal together on this night, sacred to so many around this table and around the world. May the spirit of generosity that characterizes the Christmas season inspire all in our country to work more fervently for justice. May this day be filled with joy and blessing.
We are conscious of the many times in history when Jews and other minorities were persecuted and separated from the majority culture, and of the places in our world today where minorities are still persecuted for their beliefs. So we give thanks especially tonight for two blessings of living in an open and cosmopolitan society: the blessing that our right to follow our own traditions is secure, and the blessing of knowing that our differences need not separate us from each other. May this meal be a tribute both to our right to be faithful to our own traditions, and to our delight in sharing in each other’s cultures.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָה, יְיָ, שׁוֹמֵר אֶת-כָּל-אֹהֲבָיו.
Baruch Atah Adonai, Shomer et kol ohavav.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Guardian of all who love You.