Every year it's the same.
From the Diaspora come stories of Jewish volunteers serving Christmas lunch at public institutions while in Israel we're fed clips of jolly Jewish Santas glad-handing beaming throngs as they trot towards Jerusalem's Western Wall to don phylacteries and recite the morning prayer.
'Oh, c'mon! Don't be mealy-mouthed! It's Christmas!'
And each year, we hear refrains as familiar as carols from Jews who continue to deliver the same mixed message:
We say we want to be part of the 'season of goodwill' even as we keep ourselves aloof and indeed, even as I jot this note, there is yet another debate underway on a popular Jewish social media site about how some Jews misuse Yiddish to abuse their Gentile neighbours.
Too often we dish out what we refuse to take. What is sauce for the Christmas goose, never appears on a Chanucah table.
I ponder all this against a scenario of thousands of Jewish immigrants to Israel from dozens of different backgrounds revelling in the irredeemably awful tat and tinsel that the season provides, while ignoring a spreading libel from the Christian Church hierarchy that claims 'Israel' is responsible for the decimation of the Christian population in 'The Holy Land'.
The accusation is as laughably false and as easily disproven as any claims about universal Israeli Arab poverty against substantial Jewish wealth.
The poor souls I've too often seen either with supermarket food vouchers, scavenging from public waste-bins or covertly snatching left-overs from tables in cafes where I live in Karmiel, Galilee have all been of east European appearance while the story with which I'll conclude here began in the UK.
On Monday this past week while much of the world looked forward to the current festivities, a British-born Jewish Karmieli was discovered to have died in destitute isolation at his home in the city's southern district.
This happened despite the deceased (whom I choose not to name) having had the services of a 'carer' and friends at a local kibbutz. It is understood that he had lived in Karmiel for about 20 years, was divorced and apparently estranged from his daughters
The local newspaper report of his passing gave lurid details of how swiftly the 70-year-old's remains had deteriorated and that his removal for burial and subsequent funeral were handled by the ZAKA volunteer emergency services and then the municipal authorities.
It noted further that the deaths of people without (nearby) children are "an unfortunate and painful phenomenon, especially during the winter. ZAKA Karmiel asks the general public: "Please pay attention to your childless and elderly neighbours, check that they are OK, knock on the door, even just once a day - ask how they are - it can save their lives".
All proper and correct.
But where in heaven's name were the deceased's friends?
Or had he become alienated from them, too?
Perhaps a public inquiry is needed.
Someone, somewhere should be told.
25 DECEMBER 2021