YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Twenty-two people spent their Sunday at Ohev Tzedk Temple in Youngstown to celebrate Christmas in what they call the “Jewish Tradition.”
It might not consist of what you’d think.
“Movies and Chinese [food],” said Rabbi Saul Oresky. “They say, ‘What do Jews do on Christmas?’ Well, movies and Chinese.”
The celebration was also about Hanukkah — the eight-day long holiday that began Saturday night at sundown.
“You light a candle each night,” said congregation member Beth Holloway. “You add one more for the eight nights. You say some blessings, light the candles [and] there are some traditional foods.”
Rabbi Oresky said it’s very uncommon for Hanukkah to fall on Christmas.
“So it turns out that this year, the 25th of Keslav — the Hebrew date of Hanukkah — fell on the 25th of December,” he said.
This rarity sheds light on the similarities between the two holidays.
“It gave a very nice opportunity to have some commonalities,” Rabbi Oresky said. “Both holidays of peace. Both holidays of lights. Both holidays that emphasize joy.”
Congregation members said they enjoy spending time together.
“It’s really nice — it’s family,” said Neil Yutkin, president of Ohev Tzedk. “You get the chance to get together, but in a way where you usually don’t because on holidays you’re usually inside praying.”
Rabbi Oresky hopes the closeness of the two holidays will promote a spirit of friendship for Jews and Christians.
“I would like to see an expansion of cross religious and cross cultural understanding,” he said.