Although for most Jewish and Muslim Israelis, Christmas is just another workday, there are some who enjoy its festive spirit regardless of religious message
Who are the Jews celebrating Christmas… in Israel? (Forward)
Shira Greenblatt, a secular Israeli Jew who was born and raised in Jerusalem, loves Christmas. “Every year I attend Christmas services at the Dormition Abbey on Mt Zion in Jerusalem, and I will go again this year, too. It’s very special to learn about Christianity here, in Jerusalem. And I love the lights, the songs, and the majesty,” she enthused.
Greenblatt, 42, a secretary, is one of the thousands of Israeli Jews who attend Christmas festivities and religious services throughout the country. Christmas in Israel has become so popular that even Go Tel Aviv, a hip city guide, is offering an edition of The Five Top Places to Celebrate the Holiday Season in the Holy Land.
“There is nothing like a beautiful Christmas tree to get into the atmosphere of the holiday season,” the guide advises, citing some of Israel’s best-lit trees and most inspiring masses. In towns with a Christian majority, mostly located in northern Israel, Christmas is a public holiday.
The Jewish National Fund provides Christmas trees for NIS 80 (about A$30), and the Jerusalem municipality provides lighted decorations, “in areas where the holiday is observed,” according to a municipal announcement, referring to non-Jewish neighbourhoods.
But for most Jewish and Muslim Israelis, Christmas is just another workday, with no religious, social or commercial impact.