Originally created 12/20/97

Couple find holidays express their life together



Sundown Tuesday, the beginning of Hanukkah, will usher in the 50th anniversary of the founding of Israel in 1948.

"In Israel, there is religious and non-religious, but everyone is Jewish," said Israeli army Maj. Yehein "Hilik" Bar. "Religious are the ones who follow the rules, eat kosher, pray every day, three times a day; and there is non-religious. They are Jewish because they are Jewish."

Maj. Bar's Dutch-born wife, Jacqueline, is Christian, so he celebrates Christian holidays as well as Jewish.

"We have very good, peaceful life together. It is a combination," said Maj. Bar, who graduated Tuesday from the Signal Officer Advance Course at Fort Gordon.

On Christmas Day, their son, Daniel, will turn 2. They will celebrate both his birthday and Christmas in Atlanta. They will visit Mrs. Bar's family in Holland for about three weeks before going back to Israel.

There's no difficulty between his and his wife's differing beliefs, but Daniel is a complicated question, said Maj. Bar. According to Jewish law, a child has the religion of the mother. So Daniel is Christian. But when he was 8 days old, he was circumcised in the Jewish custom, he said.

"If he wants to be Jewish, he must convert," said Maj. Bar. "He will choose when he grows up."

Daniel will enter kindergarten at age 4. He'll be taught Jewish prayers and traditions as a matter of course, said his mother. "He will not go to a very religious school," she said. "He will learn both ways, and later he will decide what to do with it."

In Israel, interfaith marriage is uncommon. For thousands of years, the Jewish people preserved their heritage largely by refusing to marry non-Jewish, or gentile, people. "It was not so easy to go to your parents and say `Hey, morning. I married Christian,"' he said. "But they accept it. They love me. They want to see the family."

someone would have to suffer."}Mrs. Bar's family lives in

Vianen, Holland, not far from Amsterdam. "We moved there when I was 7," she said. "My parents have always supported me. Their rule is: if I'm happy, they are happy."

Maj. Bar, the oldest of five children, was born in Israel and raised Jewish. "I keep the Jewish kosher rules in my house," he said. "My wife knows this, and she respects me. It is not difficult."

Like many of his countrymen, he is flexible.

His mother immigrated to Israel from Algiers, and his father came from Morocco. "He was in the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur, all the wars," said Maj. Bar.

His father was not a career military man. "But in Israel, when there is war, everyone is in war," he said.

Maj. Bar, 32, has served on the Golan Heights and about eight years on the northern border with Lebanon. He is not sure Daniel will not have to fight, he said.

"That is because people don't accept the idea that we are there. People have to understand this. It is simple. We are there. We will be there as long as we survive, as long as we have breath," he said.

The Jewish people suffered the Holocaust and other trials to have a house of their own, he said. "You appreciate what you have and what you have, it is a little country, a little, small country, the only place you can live."

Israel is where the Jewish people must be because it is the land of their history. It is also a place where everyone is welcome, he said.

"What are people talking about when they talk about being religious?" he said. "It is to keep the rules, about behaving between you and society, between you and your friends, behaving between you and your neighbors? These are rules everyone has to keep. It doesn't matter if you are Muslim, Jewish or Christian."

BYLINE1:By Virginia Norton

BYLINE2:Staff Writer

When the sun goes down Tuesday, it will mark the beginning of Hanukkah and usher in the 50th anniversary of the founding of Israel in 1948.

Army Major Yehien Hilik Bar of Israel will celebrate with a menorah as generations of his family have before him. And on Thursday, he and his wife, Jacqueline, a Christian from Holland, will celebrate two other events, Christmas and the second birthday of their son, Daniel.

"We have very good, peaceful life together. It is a combination," said Major Bar, who graduated Tuesday from Signal Officer Advance Course at Fort Gordon. "We celebrate all the Jewish holidays. We celebrate all the Christian holidays."

In about a month, the family will return to his homeland to live.

"In Israel, there is religious and non-religious, but everyone is Jewish," he said. "Religious are the ones who follow the rules, eat Kosher, pray every day, three times a day; and there is non-religious. They are Jewish because they are Jewish."

He is not strict.

"Hanukkah, yes, we have a menorrah and we have a Christmas tree if it falls at the same time," he said.

He doubts, however, he would ever convert, he said. "If I accept my wife as she is, she has to accept me as I am."

There's no difficulty between his and his wife's differing beliefs, but Daniel is a complicated question, he said. According to Jewish law, a child has the religion of its mother. So Daniel is Christian. But when he was 8 days old, he was circumcised in the Jewish custom, he said.

"If he wants to be Jewish, he must convert," said Major Bar. "He will choose when he grows up."

In Israel, an interfaith marriage is uncommon. For thousands of years, the Jewish people preserved their heritage largely by refusing to intermarry with non-Jewish or gentile people. "It was not so easy to go to your parents and say `Hey, 'morning. I married Christian,"' he said. "But they accept it. They love me. They want to see the family."

His parents did not make him choose between them and his new family. "I am happy I didn't have to do this," said Major Bar. "Any way, someone would have to suffer."

Major Bar, the oldest of five children, was raised Jewish.

"I keep the Jewish Kosher rules in my house," he said. "My wife knows this, and she respects me. It is not difficult."

His mother immigrated to Israel from Algiers and his father came from Morocco.

"He was in the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur, all the wars," said Major Bar, who was born in Israel. The older Bar was not a career military man. "But in Israel, when there is war, everyone is in war," he said.

During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, 8-year-old Hilik watched TV every night with his mother for news of his father and the fighting. Once they watched an Israeli soldier about 45 or 50 years old answer an interviewer, he said.

"He say, `Listen, we have to fight, you see. I am old. I fight because I know that my child will not fight anymore,"' said Major Bar, 32, who served on the Golan Heights and about eight years on the northern border with Lebanon. "It was '73. I was 8 years old. I have a child, now 2 years old, and I am not sure that he will not have to fight.

"That is because people don't accept the idea that we are there. People have to understand this. It is simple. We are there. We will be there as long as we survive, as long as we have breath."

The Jewish people suffered the Holocaust and other trials to have a house of their own, he said.

"You appreciate what you have and what you have, it is a little country, a little small country, the only place you can live."

Israel is where the Jewish people must be because it is the land of their history. It is also a place where everyone is welcomed, he said.

"What are people talking about when they talk about being religious?" he said. "It is to keep the rules, about behaving between you and society, between you and your friends, behaving between you and your neighbors? These are rules everyone has to keep. It doesn't matter if you are Muslim, Jewish or Christian."

Religion is what keeps the family safe, and life sane and normal, he said.