Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chanukah: That Time of Year When Everyone Knows Something About Judaism

Dear non-Jewish friends and family,

I know that Chanukah is that time of year when you're so proud of yourself for knowing that Chanukah is coming up. Really, I'm proud of you too! But Chanukah is like the speedbump of Jewish holidays. I don't even take off work. And you all very much noticed that I took off 11 days of work and school this September.

If you want to help me celebrate Jewish holidays, I would love that! But stop making a big deal out of Chanukah. Secular society celebrates it so that it can feel multicultural at a time when it knows it is the least inclusive of religious minorities. That makes me much less keen to have that be the only holiday we celebrate together. Let's start with Purim and go from there, ok?


Have a happy Chanukah next week! Eat lots of jelly doughnuts for me!


  1. Here we see the real challenge of Hanukah. The depth and power and significance of it are all quite subtly presented. What's more, in exile it has been subsumed into the big hoopla of the surrounding culture's celebrations (at least in the Western world). Yet, do you think it mere coincidence that we say, for instance, complete Hallel on Hanukah? We don't say Hallel at all on Purim. Even Passover doesn't get a complete Hallel the entire week. There is much to Hanukah; I'm sure you realize that. But it requires a subtlety or profundity of thought that many just miss and keep moving on...

  2. Chavi -

    I'm with you. One year some co-workers wanted to decorate their cubicles for Christmas and asked if they should put up some Chanukkah decorations on my cubicle. I told them "No, thanks, please just leave mine undecorated."

    They can decorate their cubies however they want whenever they want, but if I were going to decorate mine for a Jewish holiday I'd start with a major holiday, not a minor one.