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Thursday, December 15, 2005

 

CHANNUKAH CHANNUKAH C'EST LA FETE...

Long time readers know what to expect of The Pragmatician before a holiday.
A rant! Yeah I know not so pragmatic.

Rosh Hashanah it’s the long tefilah(prayer), Yom Kippur the fast, Sukkos the cold and Pesach the diet.

Channukah is around the corner and there’s no escaping this very post.

I’d like to start by summing up what I like about Channukah.
First I get to leave the office an hour early (one of my 5 simple pleasures) during 8 days.
Unlike the other holidays where the Jewish idea and concept is a plagiarized by other religions, at Channukah the reverse is true.
The whole idea of lights originates from Jewish sources, but the gift part I’m afraid doesn’t. Nevertheless who can argue that getting gifts is pleasant? Wonder what I’ll get this year? I cross my fingers it won’t be another tie (hint to all wives reading this post)

Most years Chanukah and xmas have the same calendar dates, and this year is no exception.
In America I think that many ignorant people have come to confuse both holidays as one.
Channukah .is just the Jewish version of, they whisper..
I can’t help being very perturbed when hearing such statements.
Channukah is a story of survival, a story of real heroes (no capes or powers, just good ol’ courage and faith), the story of victory and miracles. It goes beyond the famous story of the oil that lasted for 8 days. The fact that a tiny inadequately armed group of people overcame a huge legion of well trained soldiers is a miracle just as great, if not greater.
For those who wonder why this great miracle isn’t celebrated, the answer is simple. It is.
It is related three times a day during the Shemonah Esrei, one of the most important prayers recited every day.
As far as I know xmas doesn’t celebrate any of this. Rather it has it’s own but very different meaning.

I’m not surprised though that it has gotten so far. Every store in NY City has a menorah right next to the xmas tree.
Last year I stayed at a beautiful hotel in Florida which had this huge gorgeous tree and in another corner stood one of the most beautiful menorahs I’ve ever seen, and you should see the menorah in our shul. It's quite expensive looking.
To top it all, books suggesting the best methods to combine the two have been published for interfaith families.
Why combine the two? they’re two different holidays and can be celebrated separately, for e.g. on different days.

On one hand I find this wonderful, Jews and their customs are so accepted in America that everyone participates in their holiday so to speak. I assure you it’s not the case everywhere in the world.
On the other hand I am deeply frustrated by the many comparisons drawn between the two.

There’s been much talk on the blogs about stores whishing their customers happy holidays instead of happy xmas this year.
Where I live xmas is still the domineering holiday so merry xmas is what is being said in stores. I have absolutely no problem with that.
When someone says that to me I just reply with something neutral, why should it bother me? It’s simply a friendly expression of good whishes.

Unlike the other holidays my rant wasn’t directed at something difficult that accompanies the chag,.
I just love Channukah, and that’s it. It’s certainly not the luscious ponchkes (bread-chamets) found in bakeries that bother me.
And even less the family gatherings (inside) that take place.

I hope you all remember where you put your menorahs away last year! At my place every year a new hunt for the menorahs start. I think I better commence looking now.

Comments:
Chaukah is one of my favorite of the chagim. The lights, the songs, the games, the story - all of it. I find the mixing of the Jewish and non-Jewish holidays very disturbing. In America, there is Kwanzaa to contend with as well - a holiday celebrating African heritage and culture which incorporates lighting a menorah (with seven candles) into its customs. I am all for recognizing African heritage - but at Chanukah time with a menorah-like ceremony?!

My menorah is still in Israel, and has been for the past 2 years now. I wanted to leave something there to return to. Only now I am stuck without my menorah....so much for planning well.

What is a ponchkes (bread-chamet)? How many people's wives bought you a tie last year? ;-)
 
Chanukkah. Well, I wandered down to Eichlers last minute to see if I could find a pretty menorah. I did. Of course the prices weren't as pretty. But then again, look at the source. About the menorahs next to Christmas trees. I really get annoyed by that. The huge one in Flatbush annoys me most. And people wonder why goyim think that Chanukkah is the Jewish Chistmas.
 
Mcaryeh-What a delightful surprise to find a comment immediately after I posted this article
I didn't know Kwanzaa, but it seems like a very close copy of Channukah.
In case I don't find my Menorah I'll buy one for 10$ in aluminum.
Perhaps you could find one in that price range.
Ponchkes are a typical Channukah delicacy, it's like a roll stuffed either with jam or pudding. And it's chametz as opposed to the fact that Pesach we can't have chametz.
I only got one tie, but I think a million men got only 1 tie. Maybe I should start a tie business :)
----
Eshet-It's not their fault, modern Channukah is advertised as such. And therefore the two are associated.
A nice Menorah is a good investment but if you don't feel like spending too much just get one in chrome or aluminum. Should cost maximum 10$.
 
"The whole idea of lights comes from Jewish sources."

I love how you put this, prag., and it is so very true. We are fortunate to see these lights every Friday night, but to have them illuminated for 8 days with so many candles, is intoxicating!
I usually have more than one menorah lit.
 
Barbara-That's a terrific idea to light several menorahs, Let there be light!
 
What does the menorah stand for? I am not jewish so I am learning what these things mean.
 
Lucy- Hi a menorah is a candelabrum with 8 spaces for candles. Long ago in Jerusalem there was a huge Temple, which was very holy to the Jews. In there, there was also a menorah and around this time (the Jewish month of Kislev)about 2000 yeas ago this Temple and the Jewish people were attacked by a powerful army but miraculously survived and withstood. In memory of this we light a menorah, a smaller version of the one that was once in the Temple. For more about the Holiday I recommend

This Page
 
Kwaanza irritates the heck out of me too. I mean the prayers and names of the symbols are in Swaihili. Why!?!? If it is an African-American holiday (and African-American have ancestors from many various areas in Africa), then why not have it all in English? Thankfully it's a holiday that is not widely celebrated.

I don't do anything for Chanakuh except light my little basic menorah. I save my money for sending out Shaloch Manos for Purim. My budget doesn't let me buy all this stuff multiple times a year.
 
It's wierd that they believe that our Chanukah is a jewish version of their holiday, I always thought their holidays were a pathetic rip off of ours....

Pesach - Easter
Purim - Halloween
Chanukah - Xmas
Tisha Bav - Ash-whatever-it-is
 
The aluminum menorahs are less than 2$. But I already got mine.
 
I love the warmth of the lights, the golden latkes and the beautiful Mao Tzur melody each Chanukah. But my favorite holiday is Pesach.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
but best of all, is the doughnuts!
"mmmm, doughnuts!"
 
I don't have much to add, wonderful post. Thank goodness finals fall out before Chanukka so i can truly enjoy. Chag Sameach!
 
Hi-I found your blog via Tamaraeden. I liked this post. In the area where I live everything is christmas, I can't even find a Hanukkah card here in any of the little stores that sell cards, I have to go to the mall and find either a card store or a hallmark. Everyone has been wishing me a Merry Christmas, I think it's the thought that counts so I say thank you, you too.

Anyway, I did enjoy your post and I'll be back.
 
Leave it-Thanks for passing by and leaving a comment. For Channukah cards you might want to look into sending online cards, there's is much choice and some are so beautiful.
 
Misshona-I respect all celebrations regardless of how it's celebrated, I’m just frustrated when Channukah is confused with any of them.

Frumgirl-On last post I discovered you were married, so you should change the name of your blog to frum woman!


Eshet-Where did you buy?

Stacey-Interesting, I think usually Channukah is the most popular one.

Karl-wow last time you posted here was somewhere in August!Welcome!!

Lost-Thanks, good thing you can enjoy Channukah free of of any burdens.
 
Chanukah holds so many nice memories for me.
 
, and true ;)
 
Even though i had quite a few good Jewish friends when i lived in the States, i never really knew exactly what Chanukkah is. Now i feel silly that i never asked them to tell me about something so important to them. Happy Chanukkah or Happy Holidays-it's all the same, like you said!
 
Evangelia-Hi, yes it's a celebration for everyone it's just expressed in different ways and on different days.
 
Why pay for an aluminum menorah? Go to any Chabad and they're free, along with candles. You help them in doing mitzvahs because you in need allow them to give. :)

I never pack my menorahs away. They stay out on a shelf year round. When Chanukah begins I choose one of the 4 to light and I move it towards the window and leave it there for the holiday. This year I'm useing a simple one (well, mine are all simple) that my brother gave me as a gift. Two of the other ones my mom sent me, and the last one is the menorah I bought myself when I was probabally 18 and on my own for the first time.

Chanukah Chag to all:)
 
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