the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

All Jews, Christians, and Muslims Like to Sing

After a long history of being treated like crap around the world, it is nice that Jews finally feel so comfortable in America.  I can even write about Yom Kippur on Twitter and get knowledgeable responses about fasting from non-Jews in Oklahoma!

Because of this, it was sad to me to read in the newspaper that Muslims don’t feel at “home” in America, even those born in this country. After all, how can you feel safe when you have idiots like that pastor in Florida wanting to burn your holy book?

A little aside: I actually lean more conservative than most of my liberal friends in matters involving the “threat of Islamic extremism.”  It’s probably one of the few areas where I disagree with my progressive friends, a few who would rather blame George W. Bush for 9/11 than religious extremists. I’m sure my commitment to Israel colors my view of the Muslim world. You don’t hear much support for Israel from the Muslim world, or even much of an outcry over the blatant Antisemitism in the Arab media.  Have you ever seen some of the stuff printed in Arab newspapers? While most of us were furious over the Florida pastor, I hardly saw any of my friends make a mention the Seattle cartoonist, Molly Norris, who had to go into hiding over threats to her life after a cartoon of Mohammad. 

I don’t trust extremism in any religion, including my own, and it is condescending to excuse it in other religions.

However, this is America, and I’d like to consider this a special place, a giant newer country where the old country hatreds fade into the background as we all become true Americans — which means sitting around at home watching American Idol on TV and getting fat on processed foods.  We don’t burn holy books in America.  That’s being an asshole. And there’s no reason a group shouldn’t be able to build a house of worship wherever they deem fit.

My grandparents came to this country to escape repression and to be part of a melting pot.   And for the most part, that dream has come true.  I think we should all work towards helping Muslims feel at home in America.  Most foreign-born Muslims came here for the same reason anyone does — to escape repression in their own countries, or to make a better life for their families.

We frequently hear the term Judaeo–Christian tradition, but the concept of “monotheism” — the belief in one God in the Abrahamic religions –  is a triad of religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Islam, one of the most important and powerful religions in the world, deserves the right to be included on this podium.

That said, I want to take a step towards religious unity here in America, doing it the only way I know how to — through laughter, song, and entertainment!

For the last four years, I have been the impresario of the Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert!  During this December online concert, bloggers like you present videos, audio recordings, and photographs of holiday cheer — including Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs.  It has been a fun way for Christian and Jewish (and atheist!) bloggers to end the year on a festive note.

Things are going to slightly change this year.  The Fifth Annual concert will see a growth in concept, because I noticed on the calendar that on December 7, 2010  it is Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year!

The Islamic New Year is a cultural event which Muslims observe on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or migration, Islamic prophet Muhammad made it to the city now known as Medina. Recently, in many areas of Muslim population, people have begun exchanging cards and gifts on this day.

Although it is a minor holiday in Islam, let’s be honest — so is Hanukkah in Judaism — but that never stopped American Jews from making it a bigger deal to offset the mega-holiday of Christmas.  And just think how this will bring more money in to the Hallmark company with newly minted Al-Hijira cards!

So, this year, the fifth annual concert will be renamed –  The 2010 Blogger Christmalhijrahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert.

I realize that there is a dearth of good Islamic Al-Hijra songs, but then again, how many good Hanukkah songs are there?  All the smart Jewish songwriters wrote Christmas songs because that’s where the money is!  Luckily, Faiqa is already on board and knows of at least one good Islamic song for the concert.

Now where else are you going to hear Islamic new year songs, the Driedel song, and Silent Night, Holy Night all in one place?

More information — and the sign up sheet — in November.

Note: My apologies to non-Monotheist religions. We still love you, but you will need to create your own concert.


  1. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    As always, you continue to break new ground online.

    And please tell your Jewish friends in Hollywood to write some new Christmas songs. The old ones are worn out and overplayed. Thanks.

    Any Muslims that want to write Christmas songs are welcome to do so too!)

  2. Not Fainthearted

    But I had just gotten good at saying the old name!

    Oh well. Sounds like too much fun to pass up just because of that. Thanks for the heads up. Gives me time to plan!

  3. Jozet at Halushki

    Uh hello?

    One billion Hindus and not even a nod? Are you leaving out Pancha Ganapati on purpose? Although, Diwali is more like our winter festival of lights.

    Yule? What, you have a thing against Pagans? So they aren’t a majority? So they should feel left out?

    Yalda? What am I supposed to do with all these pomegranates, otherwise?

    Bodhi Day? Solstice? Signature of the Constitution of the Republic of China? First day of deer season? All winter holidays welcoming back the return of light to the world and/or the slaughter of wild animals.

    Nice try at being inclusive. Now, I’m off to write a Boxing Day song.

    • Neil

      Hindus have many gods. They are a nice people with great food, but I have to create some criteria for a guest list.

      • Jozet at Halushki

        You are a polytheistophobe. I get it. You just better hope they don’t crash the party. There’s lots of them. 😉

        • Neil

          I don’t trust any religion with a god that has many hands, or looks like an elephant.

  4. Miss Grace

    Don’t apologize to the non-monotheists. I’m an atheist, and I flippin’ love your concert.

    • Neil

      We did have some atheist commie weirdo sing a “Winter Solstice” song one year.

  5. Cole

    I sooooooo want to play along with this concert!

  6. Cheryl

    Hey there Neil,

    I too am more “conservative” than most of my Liberal twitter friends… and while I know you don’t read my tweet stream w/ rapt attention or anything (b/c I’m not a real Mommy Blogger), I actually had a BIG TIME rant re: Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris and her having to go into what will likely be a LIFETIME of HIDING b/c of her cartoon depicting the many “faces” of Mohamed.

    A cartoon that was hilarious as hell IMO. But I digress.

    To me, it’s another example of the utter disrespect toward non-Muslims that Islamic Extremists feel entitled to threaten outright DEATH b/c of an Ed-Op piece, a drawing/cartoon, book, thought, etc. that doesn’t jibe w/ their religious beliefs.

    I still want to know why there isn’t any outcry from THEIR community re: these kinds of threats and yet WE are expected to be sensitive to THEM and THEIR plight here in America b/c THEY can’t seem to assimilate or feel comfortable the way OTHER immigrant groups here have.


    So I’m sorry, but until there is an outcry from the so-called majority of NON-Violent, NICE, REASONABLE Muslims for this kind of BS … I refuse to give them the level of “understanding” and “sensitivity” they keep asking for. They haven’t shown me that they (the reasonable ones) actually exist.

    At least not yet anyway.

    That said, the idiot pastor in FL that wants to burn Qur’ans can take a flying leap as well. He’s just plain retarded. Oh wait. I’m not allowed to say that either.


    How about “DEATH to Political Correctness!” ?? Will that do?

    I wish it didn’t have to ever be about US vs. THEM. It seems so uncivilized. As that dipstick Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along?” Well, can’t we?

    Anyway, good post Neil! As usual, you’ve proven that humor can indeed lighten up the seriousness of a subject.



    • Neil

      I did see your link to this story. That is how I learned about it. I was surprised that you were the only one mentioning it. Scary shit.

      I think the local Islamic Center did come out against this threat, saying it was just one crazy guy, and not a representative of any organization, and I respect that. I just think most progressives are afraid of losing their street cred by bringing up an issue where “America,” “Republicans,” or “big business” isn’t the villain. All religions are threatened by extremist elements in their own religion. I don’t trust extremist Jews, Christians, or Scientologists.

      That said, it is our duty as Americans to fight discrimination, stereotyping, and to make all Americans feel like they are a vital part of American culture.

  7. wench

    “Note: My apologies to non-Monotheist religions. We still love you, but you will need to create your own concert.”

    Are you sure you aren’t Canadian 😉 heh heh heh


  8. Adrienne

    “I don’t trust extremism in any religion, including my own, and it is condescending to excuse it in other religions.”

    As they would say in the charismatic Christian tradition, “AMEN, Brother!”

    I’m a Mennonite (not all of us wear bonnets, drive buggies, and eschew technology) and our tradition highly values (as in, people have died for) the separation of church and state. It’s one of the civic values I hold most dear; you don’t get to tell me who, what, how, or even IF I worship, and I don’t get to tell you.

    Duh. Seems pretty basic to me, sort of foundational American stuff, but what do I know? I went to a liberal arts college and have a habit of using the critical thinking skills I learned there when I read the news, so clearly I am not an appropriately indoctrinated American.

    Most scholars call that group – Islam, Christianity, and Judaism – the Desert Religions.

  9. Jack

    I am liberal when it comes to domestic issues and very much a hawk when it comes to foreign policy. I am not interested in offending Muslims and see no reason to do it.

    This two bit pastor who wanted to burn the Koran is an idiot and got more press than he deserved. It created an issue that didn’t need to exist. But at the same time I am not interested in continuing to infantilize people who have killed Theo Van Gogh and are continuing to chase/threaten anyone they don’t like.

    It is up to the Moderates to take their religion back from the extremists- but that is a post for my blog and not yours.

  10. A Vapid Blonde

    I saw the concert last year for the first time and was really impressed with everyone’s singing voices. I however sing like a dying pterodactyl so I will watch from the sidelines.

    • subwow

      Vapid, you and me are doing a number together!

  11. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

    I am an Atheist, but I love a good holiday song as much as you God fearing people. Sign me up.

  12. subwow

    I cannot believe you are excluding the non-Monotheist religions! Don’t you know that the Olympians get together and Karaoke-ing on a regular basis?! And Hera always insists on Madonna numbers which bore the others to death, well, if they were not immortal…

    • Neil

      What are you — Buddhist? Shinto? Or one of those other crazy eastern religions? This party is just for those with ONE God. What do you want — should I let wiccans in? Devil-worshippers? The buck has to stop somewhere.

      • subwow

        The Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is Monotheist so I already assumed I could participate. I was just complaining on behalf of the fun-loving Olympians because they did bring us the forerunner to “What? Are you saying his wife is his sister?” drama…

        Agnostics CAN perform songs from ANY religion, right?

  13. Loukia

    Christmalhijrahanukwanzaakah is my new favourite word!

  14. Vicki

    You didn’t say whether you might or might not have a party for agnostics.

  15. Neil

    Frosty the snowman!

  16. Jennifer Moeller

    Why not just simplify things and call it Festivus? Is that copyrighted or something?

    If the Muslims came here to join the melting pot, I’d be right there with ya. Until we can stop the phenomenon of their 2nd and 3rd generation kids traveling to Yemen and other such tropical paradi to train with al Qaeda, and fathers who have lived here for decades running over their daughters with the car because she is too “western” (Glendale, AZ), I see little evidence of assimilation, or any desire to achieve it.

  17. Danny

    Since I forced my Jewish son to play the baby Jesus for last year’s concert, I think I’ll make him be Mohammad this year. Just don’t issue any fatwas against me, please.

  18. teahouseblossom

    “We don’t burn holy books in America. That’s being an asshole.”

    Officially my favorite line of today, Neil!

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