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Miketz and Christmas

Two separate items. I am not suggesting a relationship between them.

First, here is another great American Jewish World Service d'var Torah, this time on Parshat Miketz. I wish it recommended reputable organizations that are doing just what the d'var Torah suggests--preventing hunger and famine, rather than responding to it after the fact. Anyone know of any good places to donate towards this cause?

Secondly, I was in Bethlehem last week, including on St. Nicholas Day, and saw a great Santa Claus decoration. There is no reason at all why Santa Claus should be pasty white--St. Nicholas was from what is now Turkey.

I don't know if I am in a place right now to write extensively about Bethlehem. It was a different world from my world in Jerusalem (West Jerusalem, that is), and many aspects of the trip were quite difficult for me. I was happy to read this recent New York Times article ("Palestinians Work to Jolt West Bank Back to Life," December 23, 2008) about increased tourism in Bethlehem and other West Bank cities, since that seems like it would improve life for everyone in the region.

Happy holidays to all who are celebrating something at the moment!

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