This week, on the “(Is It) Good for the Jews?” podcast…
Larry Rosen: So we do the holiday cards every year. I think you get one.
Eric Goldbrener: Sure, yeah, we get one. They’re very nice.
LR: This year we do them early; 30 percent off. So we do them early, they arrive at our house, I’m downstairs dealing with this leak we’ve got, rummaging through sludge — and I hear: “Oh no!” What happened? My wife comes down and shows me. Written on the cards: “Merry Christmas!”
EG: So what’s the problem?
LR: Instead of “Happy Holidays.” She’s very sensitive about her Jewish friends. You know, some of her best friends are Jewish. Her husband, in fact. So we’re trying to decide what to do. Those things aren’t cheap, you know.
EG: Oooh. You’ve got a problem.
LR: Do you think the Jews we know — will they care?
EG: They will eviscerate you. You will be ostracized from the community. You will become a laughingstock.
LR: So what are our options?
EG: You could use my paper shear and just trim off the part that says “Merry Christmas” and go with…
LR: Nothing? Just a picture of us?
EG:You could put a sticker on the back that says “Happy Holidays.”
LR:Hmm. How offended do you think people will be if they get the “Merry Christmas” card?
EG: I won’t be offended, because I’ve decided that I’m beyond this whole getting-offended-when-someone-wishes-you-a-Merry-Christmas deal. I’m not going to get offended when anyone wishes me anything that’s meant with goodwill.
LR: I think we’re just going to let ’er rip and go with the Merry Christmas.
EG: Oh, you don’t want to do that.
LR: But they won’t say it, right? They’ll just…
EG: They won’t say it. But they’ll talk.
LR: “Oh, so Rosen is a complete sellout.”
EG: “All those years she’s been dragging Larry to the synagogue, to sit through all of those bar mitzvahs…
LR: …it turns out…
EG: …secretly, she finally converted him! He was one of our best! And now she’s got him, and she’s flaunting it!”
LR: You know, I was hoping to wait until we got to 100,000 listeners before that information became public. You know, so it’d be a big scandal.
EG: No, actually, she’s going to get off scot-free. It’s going to be you. It’s going to be [suddenly sounding like Mel Brooks in character]: “Larry’s a putz. He should put his foot down. For once in his life he has an opportunity to make a statement, and what does he do?”
LR: When did all of our friends become 75-year-old Jewish men?
EG: If you send those cards out — you’ve got a picture of your boy on there?
LR: He’s on there.
EG: That’s where you’re in trouble. [Mel Brooks again]: “I understand that he married a non-Jew. I understand that he went to Catholic school. But they make an effort to make their boy a proper Jew and then they slap this label on him! And send it to everyone to see! How’s he going to show his face?”
LR: I think what we’ll do is take care of all the non-Jews and our family, and then we’ll decide what to do about our Jewish friends. I’ll bet we have no more than 20 Jews on our list.
EG: Are you kidding me? You only know 20 Jews?
LR: Twenty families of Jews. See, our philosophy is to send cards mostly to people we don’t see on a regular basis. The Jews we know, we see.
EG:There’s another option we haven’t discussed. You go with the cards, and on the back, you stamp “coexist.” Now you’re making a statement. You’re giving them food for thought. It’s beautiful.
LR: Should we have it be written in Arabic?
EG: That’s it! That’s it! You have “coexist” written in Arabic, or you have holiday greetings for every holiday that happens around this time.
LR: And we’ll have “peace” written in all different languages. “Shalom.” “Aloha.”
EG: You’ve nailed it. If you put “shalom” in Arabic on the back of your Christmas card, you’ve got it nailed.
Larry Rosen is a writer, husband, father and the author of “The Rabbi Has Left the Building,” a memoir about his son’s bar mitzvah. Eric Goldbrener is a Libertarian, autodidact technologist, Zionist, atheist and lover of Israel. They host the podcast “(Is It) Good for the Jews?” from which this column is excerpted. Listen to the full podcast online.