Dear Rabbi Simon,
I am Jewish and live in a sixteen-unit condo complex in Concord, Massachusetts. A neighbor of mine bought evergreen wreaths with red bows for all the units and put them on the exterior wall of every unit. When I saw it, I thought this doesn’t belong on my door and took it down, but then I learned that there have been other Jewish neighbors who have accepted the wreaths (no one was asked, they just appeared on our doors). It doesn’t help that my non-practicing self described barely-Jewish next door neighbor had her wreath up. Am I overthinking this? Should I accept the wreath, thinking of it as just greenery for the season and leave it up like all my other neighbors, or not, because I’m Jewish.
Thank you for your practical seasonal question.
I commend your sensitivity in feeling that a Christmas-inspired wreath does not belong on your door. It may well be the case that your benefactor had only good intentions, in the spirit of goodwill and seasonal cheer. She can be excused for not appreciating the nuances of the matter, from the point of view of a Jewish household.
Still, I believe that taking down the wreath is the right thing to do. If you like, you may want to replace it with a Happy Chanukah banner (or similar)—no matter that Chanukah has already concluded. Another thought is to bake or buy something tasty and kosher for the neighbour who bought and installed the wreaths, just as a friendly and neighbourly gesture. My thinking is to show that you appreciate her thoughtfulness, even though the associations of a December evergreen wreath make it unsuited for your door.
Finally, here is a short article which I hope you will enjoy:
Rabbi rashi simon