by Simon Rothstein, editor of LJ Today, selects Santa Claus26 Santa Claus

For Progressive Jews in the UK, it’s impossible to avoid Santa Claus and Christmas at this time of year.

It may be because some of us are from mixed faith families, send our children to mixed faith schools or simply that you can’t move for Christmas messages and decorations from around mid-October onwards.

But there are many things about Santa that embody Jewish – especially Progressive Jewish – values. In fact, if you bumped into Santa on the street, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was Jewish.

After all, here is a man with a big beard and sense of joy, who clearly loves his food and drink. But there’s also a more serious point. Santa, and the giving of presents, undoubtedly brings joy to many and makes the world that little bit nicer.

Readers of this page will regularly see Liberal and Reform rabbis and leaders talking about tikkun olam, which translates as “repair of the world” and is a fundamental mission for us as Liberal Jews.

Indeed, I would argue that living our Judaism through helping others is the most important aspect of our religion.

We should be proud that Liberal Jews are not only campaigning for refugees to enter the UK, but helping them settle when they arrive; that our movement led the campaign for same-sex marriage and is now doing the same for transgender rights; that our youth are lobbying global leaders to tackle climate change, poverty and human rights abuses.

On Mitzvah Day, I joined a team led by Rabbi Alexandra Wright – senior rabbi of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue – donating and wrapping Christmas presents, alongside three other faiths, for those who otherwise may not have received any.

This is one of many such good deeds that happen in Liberal communities throughout the year. Santa would be proud.