Hannukah has come and gone. I hate it when it comes so early I feel unprepared, and too early to have a few days off from work to enjoy it more fully. We lit candles every night, but often late. It went by so quicky.

This year, however, we did something different: We went to a Hannukah celebration hosted by the Boston Progressive Jewish Spirit, which is the small, fledgling congregation of the rabbi who will be officiating our wedding. It was very nice. He’s a big history geek, which I love, and among other things had a new perspective on why it’s not necessarily such a “bad thing” (mimicking Christmas, materialistic) that Hannukah has become such an important holiday for Jews. The ability to fight off an oppressive regime and retain your sense of self and identity is in fact, a miracle, and the real miracle of Hannukah. And certainly one I feel a lot of resonance with this holiday season.


~ by realsupergirl on December 14, 2004.

5 Responses to “Hannukah”

  1. Hi Eve and J.L., it’s Sharon aka anonymous.

    Yes, Eve, I lurk on your livejournal… is that weird?

    I’m really curious what your rabbi had to say about Chanukah mimicking Christmas being an okay thing — it’s a source of constant struggle in our house since Sabrina already celebrated Christmas when she came to Jody. Jody prefers to celebrate Solstice. So we celebrate all three.

    This is our first holiday season all living together. Jody and I wanted to make Chanukah low-key, but — of course — it was mostly all about the presents for Sabrina. As it was for me, at her age. I was hoping that present fatigue would set in so Christmas could be less about getting swag than in past years, but (duh) that hasn’t really happened.

    Next year we’re going to be *so* much more organized, and incorporate tzedakah and service into our celebrations.

    So, what did the rabbi say?


  2. Hey Sharon! So good to hear from you. I hope you can come out for our celebration and meet our rabbi in person. He’s done hundreds of interfaith weddings so he knows a lot about creating interfaith Jewish homes.

    What I think he was saying was that Hannukah, though it was traditionally a “minor” holiday in Judaism, has become one of the most celebrated, most loved holiday for contemporary Jews. And that is in part due to Christmas, in part due to other factors, like the need for something to brighten up the dark winter. He suggested that we should embrace the love of Hannukah, and kind of take it for what it is, focuse on finding meaning in Hannukah.

  3. Howdy, all! Sharon, I choose to stay anonymous in the livejournal world through not using my actual name, but I live down the street, and how many people do you know in your neighborhood who might call themselves shanamadele in cyberspace?

    I go back and forth about whether the growing significance of Chanukah is a good or a bad thing. (And, oh by the way, has everyone seen the Hebrew Hammer yet and the scene at the end where they are discussing the meaning of Chanukah?) It’s a little ironic that what is essentially a holiday about not assimilating grows increasingly into a Jewish parallel of X-mas. On the other hand, maybe what Jews need at this time of year, when we’re getting this message of the universal love of Jesus, is a strong reminder that the path that gets to G-d through Jesus is not the one we choose to take. Does this mean I am agreeing with your rabbi? I might be!

  4. > but I live down the street, and how many people do you know in your
    > neighborhood who might call themselves shanamadele in cyberspace?

    oh, dozens, but I’m pretty sure I know which one you are. 😉

    Sabrina, Jody’s daughter, went to see the Christmas light display at Portland International Raceway (not with us!) She was very excited to tell me that they had a giant menorah there made out of Christmas lights. To which I said: “hmmmm”.

    I try not to let my negative feelings about Christmas (or really, the commercialized mainstream American version of Christmas) too known to her. And didn’t know how to explain that one menorah out of acres of oversized christmas symbolism is not inclusive of Jews, but rather intended to make Christians feel like their holiday really is universal. So I wound up just attempting to say that giant lighted structures isn’t a traditional Chanukah celebration, and really doesn’t get to the heart of what Christmas is, either.

    Michael Lerner recently wrote something about how both Chanukah and Christmas are about the weak and disempowered overcoming the powerful, and about hope in the face of the impossible. I liked this a lot, especially because most of the kids’ Chanukah books we found focus a lot on the military victory of the Maccabees. Which kind of sucks, IMHO — not what I want to pass on to any kid as the prime meaning of Chanukah, especially a violent kid.

    — S

  5. Hi Eve,

    Sadly, we probably aren’t going to be able to come to the ceremony, but we’ve already reserved the date of your Portland reception. We would like to be there, but it’s a hard trip to do with Sabrina. (On the other hand, we have to go to the East Coast sooner or later, so we may be able to swing it yet.) I’ll send you an email with more about this.

    I got Jody Quiddler for Chanukah/Christmas/Solstice. We played the other night and I thought of you and J.L.

    — S

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