The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys with the Concert Royal performing Handel’s Messiah in New York in December 2013. Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images.
While in an Orthodox home a few weeks before Christmas one year I noticed some red-and-white-striped candy canes on display. The lady of the house quickly noted that they were kosher with a reliable hekhsher (a funny thought in itself), and that she loved the Christmas spirit and the decorations. Not to worry: there were neither tree nor lights in this observant home. But the moment got me thinking of how we Jews cope with the majority culture around us, and I immediately arranged to attend, once again, George Frideric Handel’s famous 1741 oratorio, Messiah, a Christmas favorite even though it was intended for Easter.