Mark Oppenheimer on why religious minority groups should resist the pull of assimilation:
[H]ow much blander America would be if the broad, largely secular, and increasingly materialistic Christmas season were everyone’s tradition. If Muslims, Jews, the Amish, the Hindus, and all the rest of us sideshow communities just went all Christmas-tree, Americans would be so much more homogeneous—like Sweden, but with less paternity leave.
Accepting and embracing Jews’ difference is good not just for America, but also for us. For most Jews, I believe, happiness resides partly in accepting that one is Jewish, often identifiably so: in having a Jewish name, or a Jewish nose, or a Jewish accent, or merely a Jewish past. It’s no fun running from who we are; it’s no fun passing, even when we can.
I’m not saying that a Christmas tree always represents some effort at assimilation. I am saying that the sooner a Jew learns to think it’s terrific that she has her own traditions—even if they are flawed traditions, or aesthetically inferior, or hard to explain, or meaningless, or, like “the Hanukkah Bush,” just a weird urban legend—the sooner she can shed the big roller-suitcase of baggage that a lot of Jews carry. That’s possible to do with a Christmas tree in the house, but it’s surely harder.