How to Celebrate Jewish Holidays As A Christian

UPDATE: When I first published this blog I was naive and oblivious to the way Jewish people feel about Christians appropriating their heritage. I have had a couple of angry comments from Jewish readers and they were gracious enough to give me alternatives for honoring Jewish culture. I decided not to delete this blog post because I wanted to keep the comments in context with the original work I wrote. I have since learned that adding Jesus to Jewish customs is offensive to Jewish people and that I can embrace their culture without mixing it with my religious traditions. Christians, please read the comments to understand why I have had this change in perspective. I urge you to be sensitive and really listen to the Jewish viewpoint. I encourage you to educate yourself on Jewish history. And then, if you still feel drawn to the culture, explore it with “fear and trembling” and with the guidance of a Jewish rabbi. I am IN NO WAY an expert nor a good example in this regard.

To the Jewish people who have come across this blog, I welcome you to share in the comments if you want to. You have every right to be angry. I am so sorry for the ways that, throughout history, the world has minimized, oppressed, and sought to completely delete you. People who have called themselves “Christians,” have been a part of that — and as a true believer in Jesus, I am sorry. I love your culture because it is full of hope. I understand that “bringing Jesus into it” feels like we are like invalidating your pain and stealing from you. I am so sorry for our ignorance. Now that I know better, I will do better. Thank you for going out of your way to educate us — you shouldn’t have to do that, and you don’t have to. It is our job to be more thorough with our research. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt — you have every right to distrust us. You don’t owe us anything.

Respectfully, Imani

———————-

I’m pretty sure my love for Jewish culture dates back to my 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade teachers who always took time around the December holidays to teach us about Hanukkah. (Shout out to Ms. Neidenberg ❤️) Growing up in New York City, diversity was always encouraged so we had the privilege to learn about different people groups and religions. I always looked forward to eating potato latkes and applesauce and playing dreidel for chocolate gelt (coins). Those celebrations have stuck with me as some of my favorite childhood memories, along with celebrating Kwanzaa at home and joining my dad’s Indian coworker to celebrate the Hindi Diwali holiday with her family one year. (I can smell and taste the deliciously spicy curry just thinking about it).



Creating Christian Traditions

Now that I am a Christian and especially now that I am a mom, I don’t actively participate in holidays that aren’t about Jesus or are in celebration of other gods. (Though I love having friends who aren’t like me and share their culture with me.) I haven’t celebrated Kwanzaa since I was child because though it is not a religious holiday and I love opportunities to remember my pan-African heritage, I had a hard time reconciling my desire to worship Jesus alone and observe the strong focus on “ancestors.” Maybe I’ll celebrate it again when I can put a clear Christian “twist” on it.

However, since becoming a Christian I’ve felt an even stronger connection to Jewish tradition because Jesus is Jewish. He probably would have observed Hanukkah and Purim (celebrating Esther), as well as the feasts outlined in the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible. Obviously he observed the Passover (think Last Supper) and He is our Passover lamb.



Celebrating Jewish Holidays As A Christian Family

In Jewish culture, holidays hold a significance in family discipleship. Kids are often given gifts, there is usually food and gathering, and there is often time to attend Temple services. Traditionally, at meal times children will often ask questions relevant to the holiday and parents and other adult relatives will respond, passing on Bible stories and the meaning of the holidays.

The key to celebrating these holidays is rememberance. In many of the Jewish holidays, families are called to remember God and what He has done for them.

All of that being said, as someone who wants to raise my family in Christ, to know God, to remember His word, and to enjoy being Christians, I decided I want to actively begin observing Jewish holidays.

Earlier this year, we celebrated Purim for the first time! Purim is like the Jewish Halloween where families dress up and eat and celebrate the true Biblical account of Esther, who saved the Jewish people from genocide. We made crowns, ate hamantaschen (a snack that is supposed to resemble Haman’s hat) and we read the Bible Story together.



Our Ruth Bible study was actually done around Pentecost because traditionally, Ruth is one of the books of the Bible that is studied around Pentecost. We took that time to learn about the kindness of Ruth and what made it so special is that I collaborated with my beloved mom-in-law to make the craft.

And this month our family is observing Roshashannah with a Christian focus. I made some round challah bread as is customary for the “High Holidays” and I also made apple hand pies because apples and honey are a staple for Rosh Hashanah. I also wrote about a special ceremony called Tashlich that can be observed at the beach (yes, in September) for the Worth Beyond Rubies blog.

Here are some tips and ideas for celebrating Jewish holidays as a Christian family:

1. Do your research.

I read up as much as I could on Jewish holidays through a website called interfaithfamily. They are an organization that helps families that are both Jewish and something else learn more about Jewish culture and determine how traditional or non-traditional they want to be in the Jewish practices. They have lots of free guides on how to celebrate the holidays. Check them out! For a more religious view of each holiday, go to chabad.org to do your research.

2. Ask yourself how these holidays point to Christ.

As Christians we believe that the Messiah is Jesus and that should change our perspective in our celebration of the Jewish holidays. For example, Hanukkah is not just the Festival of Lights, it is our reminder that Jesus is the Light of the World.



3. Determine what these holidays mean to you as a Christian and your goal in celebrating them.

This will help you to figure out which ones to celebrate and why. For example, I wanted to celebrate Purim because I love Esther and wanted an excuse to dress up with my family, make a yummy snack and read the Bible together. Yom Kippur is traditionally a time of fasting and repentance for the Jewish people to become right with God and have their sins forgiven as they enter a new year, but I will be celebrating knowing that I can receive his mercy toward me through Christ Jesus and the righteousness I have in Him.

4. Pick the ones you want to celebrate and plan to do them!

I tend to choose holidays that are fun for kids to participate in. For example Sukkot is a fun holiday because families get to make a “fort” outside and eat underneath it. Sukkot is a celebration of the Torah and families often have all-nighters reading the Bible together. There are many opportunities to get creative with this.

I hope to write more about my own observances of these holidays and share them with you! I already have a recipe for hamantaschen that I want to try next year and can’t wait to share.

Your turn: Have you ever considered celebrating Jewish holidays? ⭐️

Posted in: Fun

19 Replies to “How to Celebrate Jewish Holidays As A Christian”

  1. Hey sister, I loved your article about wanting to celebrate Jewish holidays. I do have an input that while I’m not a Jewish woman I must say that you don’t necessarily have to combine Christianity and Jewish holidays together. The truth is if you believe in Yeshua then you understand the importance of HaShem (that name, G-d). As a puerto rican woman the one who guided me to partake Shabbat/Shabbos (Sabbath) or Pesach (Passover) was the Ruach Hakodesh (Holy Spirit). The more I learned of the Father the more His ways burned within me. Many Christians and Jews like to separate the two but its impossible. The Tanakh is important and it points to the Messiah which we read on how the word is fulfilled in the New Testament. I know many Jews (messianic Jews not included as they have accepted Yeshua) may not believe in Yeshua (Jesus) but the Tanakh it tells us that HaShem will gather His people in Isaiah 11:11-12 and in the New Testament in Romans 1:16 how the gospel must go to the Jews first then gentiles. And its further explained in Romans 9:24 “us” as Jews and Gentiles. So there is no separation in the eyes of the Lord it is us who divide the body of Yeshua. Our roles are crucial and we must hold on to the ways of Yeshua.

    “For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer shall come out of Zion. He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob – Romans 11:25‭-26.”

    Now I don’t say this at all to offend any Jews as I’m aware of how their the chosen people of HaShem and I have a great deal of love for them because of Yeshua but you must with all you heart and soul ask the Ruach to guide you into truth and not allow anyone to shame you or make you fearful to celebrate traditions the Father is calling you to include for you and your children. Uou are n9t following Christianity or Jewish religion but rather are a follower or Yeshua Hamashiach (Jesus). As a woman, you set the tune for your home and are important to the Lord. We see all throughout scripture how Yeshua speaks directly to women and how He shows Himself to women (the woman at the well, Mary Magdalena, Martha, and others) . Please don’t let anyone take you away from what the Father is doing intimately with you. He is separating you and you are to consecrate yourself to Him in order to be Holy as He is. Keep seeking and drawing near to Him.

    Adonai, bless you and keep you! Adonai make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you! Adonai turn His face toward you and grant you Shalom!

    1. Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for your beautiful encouragement, I do not take it lightly! Although my public statement is cautioning Christians to not just “Christianize” the Jewish traditions but really consider what it means to Jewish people to observe them, my private intention has been to enrich my own intimate relationship with G-d. I will keep your words in mind. Thank you, sis! God bless.

  2. Hi, I am glad to see you are on the right path. Try reading: therefinersfire.org it has helped me a great deal as a believer who has been baptized as an adult, and have had a long journey from being an Anglican, born again and then lived isolated in Thailand for 5 years. There I dug deep into my ‘religion’ and realized that if I want to be grafted onto the vine I will have to live as Jesus(Yeshua) lived. That is obeying the Almighty.

  3. I admit, when I saw this blog title and read your post I was ready to storm into the comments with all sorts of fire and indignation over the appropriation of Jewish holidays. I can see from other comments I’m not the first, however, and I can see from your replies that you are not trying to be disrespectful. You’ve already been told about the harm that is done when Christians decide to celebrate Jewish holidays. Instead, if I may make a suggestion–to truly learn about and experience Jewish traditions, why not get in touch with your local Rabbi to see about participating in holiday services? Most Reform and Conservative congregations should be open to inviting goyim as long as they are respectful and understand that they’re there to learn. I think it’s always best to include Jewish people when doing Jewish things, especially if you yourself are not Jewish. Also, since you are a Christian, I would not suggest trying to incorporate Jesus into Jewish practices. Messianic Judaism is not true Judaism and Jesus as a messiah figure is ultimately incompatible with Judaism. If you’re not comfortable leaving Jesus out (which would be understandable, of course!) then perhaps Jewish practices are not for you. But at least Christianity has plenty of holidays–and they’re all federally recognized!

    1. Michal, I really appreciate your comment. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt, especially not knowing me personally, I truly appreciate that. I love all of your suggestions and I think your point about not trying to make Jewish holidays Christian is an excellent one. Personally, I would not have a problem with leaving Jesus out of it. There is a synagogue near us that is not messianic at all and they have been open to us, so I will be mindful about participating with them instead of mixing my own traditions. Thank you and the other ladies who have shared a Jewish perspective on this post. I have learned a lot from you all. In having discussions with my husband about this post, he asked me why I don’t just delete it or limit comments… But your comments have made me aware of the conflict and helped me to understand. I am grateful. My hope is that when other Christians come upon this blog that they will read your comments and learn from them as well. I will probably edit the original blog with a disclaimer to read these remarks, and encourage Christians to be sensitive and actively educate ourselves. Thank you again!

  4. For a long time I’ve felt the same way that you do, regarding Jewish culture. It’s always good to recognize God’s work and blessings. So in Jewish culture and holidays there is such remembering. So this is good.
    Many years ago some so called Christian people coused a seperation between Jewish and Christian’s culture. If God established it, it’s good. We’re not required to celebrate like Passover but it helps us to enrich our Christian life. Keep up the good work AM YISRAEL CHAI. [ THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL LIVE].

      1. I love many aspects of different faiths. I agree it’s not appropriate to just mingle them with Christianity, but at an elemental level, you can embrace the “why” of the celebration without “bastardizing” the tradition. Create your own celebration with a nod of acknowledgement for what was the inspiration. I love Hakas, the New Zealand tribal dance that honors and takes place in so many celebrations, happy and sad, but I wouldn’t join in one without asking, knowing the significance and being truly a part of the culture. I’d also look at my own culture for the similarities and often similar origin. Sometimes it’s just best to admire from afar.

  5. Beautiful post!!! Informative and helpful! After being baptized in water and Spirit I learned that Jesus Christ already fulfilled ALL THE LORDs’ FEASTS and those in Christ fulfil all of them including SABBATH! This year, GOD willing I plan on learning and teaching my children about those wonderful feasts that are a reminder of The Father’s Love for us and how We can completely Rest and Trust that He took care of every detail of our Salvation and I’m looking forward to experiencing Forever with Him in Christ and then in our glorified bodies in HEAVEN. For those that are not familiar with The Kingdom of HEAVEN and how GOD made it possible for Everybody to be with Him…
    We must be Reborn to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and to do that there is the baptism of Water and SPIRIT. Before water baptism one must sincerely reflect and repent (there should be tears), then be complete submerged in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our Lord Jesus Christ. SPIRIT baptism is when somebody that already has The SPIRIT and speaks a new language supernaturally prays with you (does not have to be in person) to receive The Holy Spirit and then begin speaking / singing in another language and the SPIRIT will enable that person to speak / sing fluently quickly.
    I am praying for all those reading this post now that desire Redemption and Wholeness to be baptized in Water and SPIRIT (where ever they are at this moment) in THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS CHRIST. Praise The Father forever and ever!!! He desires to begin Eternity with us now and to go through life’s journey with us!

    1. I am a Christian and also agree with your post 100%. My in-laws converted to Messianic Judaism about 10-12yrs ago and I’ve always been intrigued. Jesus was Jewish and celebrated Jewish holidays and I believe by doing them, we can grow closer to Him and God and have a better understanding. Do you have any tips or resources for celebrating Passover? I want to put on a Seder for my family and a friends family, but don’t know where to start.

  6. Beautiful post!!! Informative and helpful! After being baptized in water and Spirit I learned that Jesus Christ already fulfilled ALL THE LORDs’ FEASTS and those in Christ fulfil all of them including SABBATH! This year, GOD willing I plan on learning and teaching my children about those wonderful feasts that are a reminder of The Father’s Love for us and how We can completely Rest and Trust that He took care of every detail of our Salvation and looking forward to experiencing Forever with Him in Christ and then in our glorified bodies in HEAVEN. For those that are not familiar with The Kingdom of HEAVEN and how GOD made it possible for Everybody to be with Him…
    We must be Reborn to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and to do that there is the baptism of Water and SPIRIT. Before water baptism one must sincerely reflect and repent (there should be tears), then be complete submerged in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our Lord Jesus Christ. SPIRIT baptism is when somebody that already has The SPIRIT and speaks a new language supernaturally prays with you (does not have to be in person) to receive The Holy Spirit and then begin speaking / singing in another language and the SPIRIT will enable that person to speak / sing fluently quickly.
    I am praying for all those reading this post now that desire Redemption and Wholeness to be baptized in Water and SPIRIT (where ever they are at this moment) in THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS CHRIST. Praise The Father forever and ever!!! He desires to begin Eternity with us now and to go through life’s journey with us!

  7. You have your own holidays to feel close to Jesus. Stop taking ours. Putting a Christian spin on Jewish holidays completely negates your desire to replicate what Jesus celebrated (you want to celebrate Passover like Jesus did? Go slaughter a lamb and then eat the entire thing in one night) so there’s one reason to just stop doing this. But even more importantly, considering the genocide that Jews have endured for centuries at the hands of Christians, this is incredibly insensitive and offensive. You don’t get to participate in a religion (Christianity) that has actively murdered Jews for celebrating these holidays and also take those holidays for yourself. If you want to celebrate Jewish holidays, convert to Judaism. Don’t steal from our religion. I hope you grow from this. Any local rabbi would love to talk to you more about this (probably in a kinder way than I am right now) so I hope you take advantage of that and educate yourself.

    1. Hi Rachel. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I have nothing but respect for Jewish culture so it saddens me to be offensive to anyone in this regard. My intentions are to connect with the culture my Messiah came from. That is a very personal experience that I have chosen to write about publicly but that in no way means stealing. I can’t take anything away from you. The one thing I would say is that the so-called “Christians” who have committed genocide to anyone we’re never really Christians at all. Also, I have been to non-Messianic congregations that have invited my family to celebrate with them. And to your point about slaughtering a lamb for Passover, it seems that even within Judaism some are not making that a practice. I see your point about people appropriating culture — but that is not what I am doing in my personal life. I honor your culture and I am grateful to those within Judaism who have encouraged me to explore and celebrate with you. Blessings!

      1. You’re claiming to respect Judaism, but when a Jew tells you how much what you’re doing hurts, your first reaction is to tell them that what you’re doing ISN’T hurtful. How is the denial of another’s feelings respectful? Accept that you hurt (some) Jews when you do this. Some Jews won’t care. But, like every other group on the planet, Jews aren’t a monolith. The lack of hurt from some doesn’t negate the hurt of others.

        Modern Jews have no reason to slaughter a lamb and eat it for Pesach, because our religion has grown in the 2,000 years since the Temple was destroyed to become a religion that we can keep in Diaspora. Jesus’ Judaism was still a Temple and sacrificially based. So, when you take a Passover seder, you’re not doing what Jesus did. It is a late Antiquity or early Medieval adaptation of what we WOULD have done and definitely not what Jesus would have done. So, again, if you want to do what Jesus did, don’t take from most of modern Judaism, which was adapted by our Sages and Rabbis in the first couple of centuries after the destruction of our Temple. You’re showing that you’ve done a lot less research than you claim. Prayer instead of sacrifices, synagogues instead of the Temple in Jerusalem, almost all Diasporic practice was the work of a few Sages in the centuries after the destruction of the Temple to pull together some semblance of cultural continuity in the face of abject destruction. It wasn’t a consensual choice or a natural evolution of practice; it was a survival tactic in the face of obliteration.

        I suggest you read The Forward’s article, “Please do not hold a ‘Christian Seder'” for some added analysis and opinion on this matter. Two Jews have come here to add our views that this is hurtful, but trust me, we’re not the only ones who find this problematic, at best.

        You don’t get to say “I honor your culture” when the person you’re supposedly honoring says “no, you’re not.” You can’t honor someone if they don’t feel the honor themselves. No respect can happen between people when one makes demands of the other’s emotions. No respect can exist in a place where one person gets to dictate another’s reality or has a monopoly on what is “really” going on. I will accept that, from your view, you are honoring us, that you’re not doing this from a place of maliciousness. But can you accept that your intent and motivations don’t dictate the feelings of Jews? That hurt is happening, regardless of what you mean or don’t mean?

      2. Hi Uriella. Thank you for joining the conversation. Thank you for adding that historical background. I absolutely need to do more research. Also, I have never held a Seder, but I will take the time to check out the recommended article. I never denied anyone’s hurt or expected anyone to put their hurt to the side. In my personal life I am respectful of Jewish people and I have been invited as a Christian to worship with practicing Jews. My response to Rachel was to say, I understand where the anger comes from. And now that I have reread it without the undertones of feeling personally judged (i.e. “don’t steal from us”) I think I further understand her point. I am sorry for the hurt cause by Christians who, likely with good intention, are appropriating your culture without acknowledging the oppression you have endured. I get that. To Rachel’s point, yes, throughout history, Christians have been notorious for that. I am sorry for the injustice. I am sorry for not understanding the significance of this issue in the first place. Also, maybe “honor” was the wrong word for semantics’ sake. I do respect Jewish people. I do not expect everyone to agree with me about worshiping my God in this way. When I first wrote this blog I was unaware of this, when I became I aware I believed I could accept it. I have been encouraged by other Jewish people (not all Messianic) to explore Jewish culture and include it in my Christian worship. That is the dilemma. On one hand there are those who find it offensive and there are those who do not. Ultimately, I have to weigh this in my private life, but I do want to publicly acknowledge that I do understand why it is offensive and, for that, I am sorry. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt.

        Since the writing of this blog I have started college and taken a history class and I see how problematic Christians have been. I have been to therapy and I see the danger of belittling people’s feelings, especially those who have endured oppression. I have also been re-evaluating my own Christian religious practices. Please believe that I am going to seriously consider what you and Rachel have said going forward, continue to do my research, and be open to these conversations. Blessings!

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