We, also, can pray on Dec. 25

So what are you doing on Christmas? Sounds like a crazy question for a Jewish newspaper to be asking. But read on. It makes sense.

For many Jews, Christmas is a time to head out to the Chinese restaurant — a traditional hangout for Jews when all other restaurants are closed — and then maybe take in a movie while the theaters are empty.

It's a nice evening and a good way to pass away the time since the only things showing on TV are a bunch of choirs, church services from Iowa and rerun No. 3,056 of "Miracle on 34th Street."

But wait. Why let the rest of the world have a spiritual day while you are eating chow mein and watching the latest "Star Trek" movie?

If you check your calendar, you'll notice that Christmas this year falls on Friday. And Friday night is Shabbat. Why not call up a few friends and tell them to join you at services? Even better, invite them over on Christmas Day for a Shabbat dinner either before or after services.

It would be a real shame to let our synagogues go empty next Friday night. In fact, it would be an embarrassment. While Christians are celebrating their holiday, why shouldn't we celebrate ours?

Going to synagogue is also good practice for the last night of 1999, which is also a Friday. And what better way to welcome the new millennium than a visit to your synagogue?

Some synagogues are even planning New Year's Eve-style events in conjunction with services for that night. If yours hasn't given it a thought, maybe now is the time to begin planning for Dec. 31.

Oh, by the way, Jan. 1, 1999 is Shabbat too. So you can sleep in, watch a day of football games and then welcome in 1999 with services.

So what does this mean for three-times-a-year Jews? We're suggesting you at least double your attendance at synagogue. Besides the High Holy days, join us in prayer Dec. 25, 1998, Jan. 1, 1999 and Dec. 31, 1999.

See you in synagogue next Friday, and in the meantime, we wish you a Happy Chanukah.