Chrismukkah: The Holiday Merger of Christmas and Hanukkah; TV’s hip show “The O.C.” inspires launch of holiday web-site for Jewish interfaith families.

Share Article is a new web site focusing on infomation and product geared toward Jewish interfaith families and individuals. Chrismukkah is a mix of cultural traditions derived from both the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays.

Last December, Michelle and Ron Gompertz were collapsed on the sofa in their California beach house, a bit dazed from sleep deprivation as Minna, their newborn daughter, nursed. They stared blankly at the big screen TV, only half watching a Christmas episode of “The O.C.”- Fox’s trendy teen series which centers on an affluent, part-Jewish / part-WASP family living in Newport Beach, California. The O.C.’s smart-alec anti-hero Seth Cohen, son of Sandy and Kirsten, was explaining his holiday policy to new foster brother Ryan:

Seth: So what's it going to be? You want your menorah or a candy cane, hmm? Christmas or Hanukkah?

Ryan: Um, I'm not-

Seth: Ah. Don't worry about it buddy, because in this house, you don't have to choose. Allow me to introduce to you a little something that I like to call - Chrismukkah.

Ryan: Chrismukkah?

Seth: That's right. It's the new holiday, Ryan, and it's sweeping the nation.

“Sound familiar?” Ron asked rhetorically. Michelle - the daughter of a Midwestern minister, and Ron - Jewish from New York City, were newlyweds. They had been preparing for upcoming family holiday visits by tutoring each other on their particular religious traditions. They were beginning to better appreciate the complexity inherent in raising their daughter. Their interfaith wedding ceremony had included rituals from both religions and they had planned to treat the December holidays in much the same way. Seth Cohen’s clever Chrismukkah moniker was as good a name as any to describe such a hybrid celebration.

Ron and Michelle are among a growing number of Jewish/Christian families. According to the United Jewish Communities' National Jewish Population Survey in 2000, there are 5.2 million Jews living in the United States, but only 52% are intermarried. This translates to nearly 2.5 million Jewish mixed marriages. This trend is controversial within the conservative Jewish community. Some are aghast at the very idea of a Chismukkah type holiday for it’s suggestion of syncretism - the melding of religions - and that it is an ominous development for Jewish identity. According to the UJC survey, one-fifth of the Jewish population strongly opposes mixed marriage, while half of Jews in the United States believe it is "racist" to promote marriage only within the faith. More recently, the rise of religious fundamentalism has many Jews turned off to the role religion plays in the modern world. Perhaps this is why Chrismukkah resonated with Ron and Michelle.

The day after the O.C. episode aired, Michelle put together a couple of dozen “Happy Chrismukkah” cards and mailed them to friends and relatives. The hand-made cards received positive reviews. A Google search highlighted the dearth of interfaith holiday cards on the market. They decided to launch, a web site with a focus on the needs of Jewish/Christian interfaith families and half-Jewish individuals. They dedicated the business to their daughter , and to Ron’s late grandmother,-a German Jew who survived the Holocaust because she was married to a Lutheran. features an original collection of funny but sophisticated interfaith holiday cards mixing icons from both Christmas and Hanukkah. For example, one card features a bowl of chicken soup with matzoh balls stacked 3 high to resemble a snow man. Another card wishes “Merry Mazeltov” while another includes a recipe for Kosher Fruitcake. The cards sell for $15.00 per dozen. The site also contains information and links of interest to interfaith families. The web site went live this October and is attracting several thousand visitors per week.

Ron and Michelle see much expansion potential for the web site and product offerings. The O.C.’s Seth Cohen might slyly suggest adding a Spring line of “Rabbi Rabbit” themed “EasterOver” cards.


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Ron Gompertz
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