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A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 12/22/17

I have never played Ebenezer Scrooge before. But the opportunity to portray the miserly central character of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” was too good to pass up.

I have seen Scrooge enacted by such thespians as George C Scott, Patrick Stewart, and Mister Magoo (!). But there is quite a difference between watching an actor on television and doing a live reading yourself.

I can thank my neighbors, Gayle and Eric, for inviting Eve and me to their home this past Sunday. They have a custom of having friends over to read this famous story of a bitter old man who cruelly mistreats his family and employees. Any entreaty to join in Christmas cheer is met with a derisive “Bah Humbug.”

But through his encounters with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, Scrooge realizes how wrong he has been and vows to be a far better man. The story concludes with Scrooge giving munificently to charity, heartily celebrating Christmas with his nephew Fred, and providing generous support to Bob Cratchit and his son, Tiny Tim.

My neighbors were a little concerned that “A Christmas Story” would be problematic for me as a Jew. But as I delved deeper into the story, I view Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation as an act of repentance – what we Jews call t’shuvah. He saw the errors of his way and took concrete steps to turn his life around.

I had a delightful time with our neighbors and friends reading aloud “A Christmas Carol,” drinking Wassail, and enjoying a delicious dinner together. For all of us, may this festive season of the year be filled with good cheer, fine food, and harmony.

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