Being Santa Claus makes this Orthodox man a ‘better Jew’
Why is this Atlanta-based Santa Claus different from all other Santas? He’s an Orthodox Jew. And Rick Rosenthal, 66, takes being a light unto the nations pretty seriously.
For the past seven years, he’s been a full-time Kris Kringle, deploying his signature bushy white beard and cheery disposition to the delight of children looking for some Christmas magic.
“Being Santa really does make you a better person because he talks to children, gives them respect, looks them in the eye and listens. And treats them all the same — whether they’re 4 or 94,” Rosenthal tells Story Corps.
This holly, jolly gent bears such an undeniable likeness to St. Nick that when a little boy looked wistfully at him at Home Depot in the spring seven years ago, he couldn’t deny his natural gift and decided to inhabit Santa full time.
“It was a life-changing experience,” Rosenthal reveals to Fox News.
While Santa Rick, who’s married, insists there’s no conflict between his faith and red suit, there are times when Jewish law will prevail, like when Christmas Eve coincides with Shabbat, the day of rest. That’s when Santa Rick will walk to jobs and defer getting paid, for it’s verboten to deal with money on the Sabbath.
“I’m really doing a mitzvah,” he says. “There are a couple of people who think I’m crazy, but we don’t live in a black and white world.”
He also runs the Atlanta-based Northern Lights Santa Academy, which grooms future North Pole disciples in the finer points of Christmas cheer.
“If you look at the world as children do, that’s a better feeling. I’m a better person and a better Jew because I’m Santa.”