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Newsday Faith Column

Recently I was interviewed for Newsday's "Asking the Clergy" column.  The question was "Is it a holiday concert or a Christmas concert?  Does the name matter?"  The column appeared on Saturday, December 3rd.  What follows is my response.

I understand the conflict and appreciate both perspectives.  On the one hand, one of the things that make this country great is the inclusiveness.  Call it a holiday concert is the most inclusive.  That is really wonderful, and I really enjoy that.  On the other hand, when we're too generic, we miss out on the strength of each individual religion.

I think that when we say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Happy Hanukkah" or "Merry Christmas," we are missing out on the strength of that greeting.  It is kind of funny, but I can be walking down the street wearing a yarmulke and someone will still say, "Merry Christmas" or the generic "Happy Holiday."  I don't get offended.  It is just odd.  If I see someone wearing a cross, I say, "Merry Christmas," not "Happy Holiday."

When it comes to the name of a concert, if it is for a large group and you have many different faiths, and maybe you're at a school and you don't want to offend, then holiday concert is appropriate.  But it would be silly for a church or a synagogue to have a holiday concert.

I think it is nice at a public school to be exposed to people of different faiths.  I would hear Handel's "Messiah" every year during the concert at my daughter's school.  I would still go to hear it, even though she has graduated.  I enjoy hearing it.   Handel's "Messiah" is a beautiful piece.  And, I expect it to be called a holiday concert because it is at a school.