I am taking a break from the serious business of theater to tackle an even more serious business that occupies all minds as we approach the day when Christmas and Hanukkah both fall. Who would win, in a fight between Santa Claus and Judah Maccabee?
An article in Slate addressed the question of which Christmas specials were best for Jewish children. The decision (the Grinch and Charlie Brown) is something I can't help but agree with. But she never addressed the core issue her child asked: who would win?
SC obviously has the weight on JM, but JM has the youth and the soldier's training. Years of fighting the Seleucids can't help but leave JM in fighting trim.
But Santa has a backup band of vicious reindeers, not to mention a whole army of elves at his beck and call. Once again, JM would be fighting against the odds while a bloated general called the shots for his massive army.
When I was young, my brother told me that Judah Maccabee came to every Jewish child's house and put presents under every child's pillow (it wasn't till I was an adult that I realized that putting presents under the pillow was a family tradition, not a universal one). I envisioned a rather serious looking man, with a much lower budget than Santa was privy to.
Older, I envisioned Judah as a man I would not particularly want to meet on a street corner, a man good at fighting but not much else. Now, probably thanks to my play (and Peter Brown's portrayal), my image has softened a little, to a reluctant warrior who perseveres.
And Santa may have the better presents and the better press, but I'm sorry, it's Judah Maccabee, hands down.