“Ma Nishtana” – Why Is This Christmas Different Than Every Other?

Chinese Menu, Vintage Santa Claus

In anything but a normal year, how could we ever expect a normal Christmas?

Christmas will feel different. The one constant we can count on will be Santa Claus who thanks to Dr. Faucci received his vaccine and will continue making his rounds this holiday.

A COVID Xmas will look different for all of us.  Including Jews.

In a year when the word unprecedented has become the buzzword of 2020, we have had to continually adjust and create new traditions. It has been a year where little is as it once was.

In that spirit, I thought I’d adapt a Passover tradition for this Christmas. The ritual 4 Questions asked at the seder retooled for  Christmas by an inquiring Jew.

A Passover tradition for this very untraditional Christmas.

“Ma Nishtana”

Why is this Christmas different from all other years?

On all other Christmases, Jews eat all kinds of Chinese food. On this Christmas, we can’t eat in restaurants and many beloved Chinese establishments have long since shuttered making even take-out difficult.

On all other  Christmases, Jews enjoy going to the movies, the chance to see a Hollywood blockbuster premier. On this Christmas, all movie theatres are closed making it like every other day with Netflix and chill.

On all other Christmases Jews are off from work and so plan big family get-togethers. On this Christmas like everyone else, our holiday traditions will be played out on zoom.

On all other Christmases Jews feel like the outsider a day that reminds us we are the minority. The Other. On this Christmas we are all one, missing our families, our friends, our lives.

Because this is unorthodox there needs to be one more question the most important one of all.

Why is this Christmas different than all others? Because this Christmas 333,308+ Americans will not be here to celebrate. Ever.

333,308 dead souls that didn’t have to be.


*Note: Ma Nishtana are the 2 words in the phrase meaning “Why is tonight different from all other nights?” that appear at the beginning of each line of the questions asked at the Passover Seder.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2020.



  1. Well, there’s take-out. We’re getting Chinese take-out this evening.


  2. Sadly, well said. Be safe this holiday season and in 2021. Keith


  3. I lovely sentiment, even if read in 2022 by a non-Jew. Is “goy” an OK word if a goy says it? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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