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How American Jews Secularized Christmas
through Music

Movie review of Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas (2017)
Salwa Bachar
I was recently made aware of a musical documentary called Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas (available to watch here), directed and narrated by Canadian Jewish filmmaker Larry Weinstein. The film features a panel of Jewish “experts” including an ethnomusicologist, a music educator, a composer, a journalist, a known lawyer, several comedians, a museum director, a rabbi and even a Catholic priest. With this panel, the viewer enters the world of popular Christmas music, learning how the vast majority of American Christmas songs were created by Jewish songwriters with the confessed purpose of de-Christianizing Christmas.

Larry Weistein

Larry Weinstein wanted to affirm before the world that the Jews de-Christianized Christmas

After the Jewish migration into the United States at the turn of the 20th century, Jews came to the forefront of American popular music and culture, making an “outsized contribution” through jazz, Broadway, Hollywood and even comic books. Mirjam Wenzel, director of the Jewish Museum of Frankfurt, confirms this in the film: “In popular culture, as it was invented, Jews were at the core.”

It was their rootless nature and their capability to assimilate that enabled the Jews to begin to create the “American voice” in the 20th century. Journalist Robert Harris tells how it happened: “America had gotten to a place where it wanted to create a sense of being American, not being Lithuanian or Latvian or Polish or German or Irish. And so the Jews, because they were basically rootless, were the perfect people in the perfect place to try and create this merging of outside and inside. And they did, they were unbelievably successful in doing this.”

In order to create this “American voice,” the viewer learns that the first thing Jewish entertainers did was change their name to hide any trace of “Jewishness.” To name a few: Israel Beilin became “Irving Berlin”; Hymen Arluck became “Harold Arlen”; Asa Yoelson became “Al Jolson.” It was in this way that, discreetly, the Jews began to strongly influence popular culture.

Rob Bowman, ethnomusicologist, explains how Jews embarked onto Christmas music: “From 1910 to 1940, American popular music is dominated by Jewish composers. So of course they’re writing all the love songs, they’re writing all the patriotic songs, they’re occasionally writing Easter songs... So of course they’re writing Christmas songs!”

Mirjam Wenzel

Wenzel of the Jewish Museum of Frankfurt: ‘In popular culture, as it was invented, Jews were at the core’

What exactly prompted the Jews to begin to write songs about Christmas, a holiday that celebrates the birth of the Man-God Whom they crucified? One excuse presented was the commercial gain to be had from the endeavor. Comedy entrepreneur Mark Breslin reasons: “You could write a song that 3% of the population will buy the record, or you could write a song that 97% of the population will buy the record. The businessman in me says: go for the bigger market.”

Though the commercial endeavor is presented as one reason for Jews writing Christmas songs, another reason seems to emerge when composer Ben Sidran explains the effect of Irving Berlin’s famous song:

White Christmas was written by Irving Berlin in 1941 for a film called Holiday Inn. That song is the song where Irving Berlin ‘de-Christs’ Christmas, he turns Christmas into a holiday about snow.

Thus, the viewer learns that the secularization of Christmas through popular culture really began with Irving Berlin’s song, White Christmas, which was debuted by the famous Bing Crosby. Is it a coincidence that Crosby, a lifelong Catholic, was chosen to debut this song? Could it be that Jewish songwriters understood that their songs would have a better reception if presented to the public by Catholics?

As an aside, perhaps the answers to these questions can be found when considering Irving Berlin was also a known Freemason, a member of the Munn Lodge No. 203 of Manhattan, NY.

From White Christmas onwards, Jewish songwriters would go on to write a profuse amount of Christmas music. A non-exhaustive list of other Christmas songs written by Jews is presented by the film:

Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby singing White Christmas for the first time in the movie Holiday Inn

  • Winter Wonderland
  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  • Sleigh Ride
  • Let It Snow
  • The Christmas Song
  • Silver Bells
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
  • Holly Jolly Christmas
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
  • Do You Hear What I Hear?
Perhaps the most famous Christmas song of all is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. What most Americans probably do not know is that the song was based on the Jewish childhood of the storywriter, Robert May (which was later set to music by his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks). Harris tells the story:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the most Jewish Christmas song of all, because Robert May based the story of Rudolph, you know, ‘had a very shiny nose’, ok, big nose... you know, ‘all the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names, they wouldn’t let poor Rudolph play in any Reindeer games’... He based that on his own childhood as a Jew. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the story of a young Jewish boy in the United States. And you know what’s so interesting about Rudolph? It’s that Rudolph doesn’t get a nose job.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

In the movie the real Rudolph is featured as a drunk

“So, the point of [the song] is not for Rudolph to blend in and become another reindeer, the point of Rudolph is for Rudolph to be appreciated for what he is. It is the Jewish story.”

Besides its Jewish roots, what effect did this song have on Christmas? Much like White Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer further chipped away at the holiday by creating a “new mythology”. Bowman explains:

“If you look at virtually every Christmas song written by a Jewish composer, they’re not religious. This is taking Christmas out of anything about a baby Jesus and you know, a manger and all of that stuff, and it’s creating a new mythology, a mythology of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Music educator Rob Kapilow goes further, saying that the song was written for an “invented holiday”: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a story that has nothing to do with Christmas in any kind of religious tradition. It’s an invented myth about an invented holiday.”

With the explanation of this song, the viewer understands that Jews wrote secular Christmas songs in order to destroy Christmas. Their hatred for the holiday is evident throughout this film.

Jackie Mason compared Christians to cows

Comedian Jackie Mason compares Christians to cows

One instance of this hatred is when comedian Jackie Mason compares Christians to cows: “Who cares if it’s your own holiday? If I see a lot of cows on the street, I might to want to write about a cow. So, do I have to be a partner with cows to have to live with cows to write a song about it?”

Another instance occurs with a comment by Breslin, who admits the beauty of Christmas but with a bitter envy: “I have to say, the Gentiles [Christians] are really good at the prettiness of their holidays. Hanukkah just doesn’t match up, you get a little wooden dradle, you spin it and you get some stale chocolates.”

The last part of the film is dedicated to anti-Christmas propaganda, particularly the myth that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday (which TIA has debunked here). Harris takes some historical facts and twists them to create a fake history of Christmas, while insinuating that the Catholic Church used them to propagate “their [invented] Jesus story”:

“The secularization of Christmas started almost before Christmas. They [Catholics] decided that Christmas was going to be December 25 in 300 AD. Christmas wasn’t celebrated before that, really. It’s not a major Christian holiday at all. So in fact people were celebrating the winter solstice for millennia. All these things we associate with Christmas are pagan symbols, pre-dating Christianity by thousands of years, and the Church tried to sort of culturally appropriate these for their Jesus story.”

In a later comment, Harris goes on to repeat himself while making his own conclusions: “Christmas was secular long before it was Christian. Christians are the ones who appropriated it. The Christians took over Christmas, it wasn’t the Jews stealing Christmas: the Christians stole Christmas.”

After this fake history of Christmas, the narrator goes on to state matter-of-factly while showing what are supposed to be Christmas scenes from old paintings: “It may be hard for us to believe today, but for centuries, Christmas was nothing more than an excuse for a drunken party, and to abandon all inhibitions. A solstice celebration, true to its pagan roots.”

The fact that the early American Puritans – who were heretics, not Christians – outlawed Christmas celebrations is presented by attorney Alan Dershowitz as “evidence” for this anti-Christmas myth: “In the first lawbooks of Massachusetts, it was a crime in Massachusetts to celebrate Christmas. In fact, it was a crime in Massachusetts to not work on Christmas. Christmas by the Puritans was seen as a heathen holiday.”

Fr. Thomas Rosica

Rosica: the Church does not own Christmas & approves its commercialization

What is particularly shameful in this movie is that it presents the unofficial “approval” of the Catholic Church. The progressivist Fr. Thomas Rosica was a spokesperson for the Vatican at the time of the film’s production and release. He makes several off-the-cuff remarks throughout the film that only serve to support the Progressivist/Jewish agenda, which aims to enthrone man as the center all of things:
  • “Christmas brings people together, makes the world stop. Yes, it’s the birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of our religion if you will, but Christmas is not owned by the [Catholic] Church. Christmas is a celebration for humanity.”

  • “There are some who complain about the commercialization of Christmas. I’m not uncomfortable with the commercialization of Christmas, I worked as Santa Claus in a shopping mall.”

  • “I’m grateful to those songs that evoke emotions of hope, of family, of gratitude, it’s all the things that make us human.”
Disregarding its completely unhistorical anti-Christmas propaganda, the film actually presents information that is very useful for Catholics to know. With this film, we have the unashamed confession from modern-day Jews that it was Jewish songwriters who intentionally secularized Christmas.

Posted February 17, 2020
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