Religion & Beliefs

Why Hanukkah Doesn’t Deserve Its Bad Rap

Thanks to its made-up miracle and not-quite-Christmas status, Hanukkah has a bad reputation—but I love it anyway. Here are three reasons you should as well: 1.) Hanukkah has social justice built in. Hanukkah gelt was originally given as real money, … Read More

By / December 21, 2006

Thanks to its made-up miracle and not-quite-Christmas status, Hanukkah has a bad reputation—but I love it anyway. Here are three reasons you should as well: 1.) Hanukkah has social justice built in. Hanukkah gelt was originally given as real money, not chocolate, to children. They were encouraged to give it as tzedakah (charity). 2.) For American Jews, the holiday of Hanukkah should reinforce the urge not to assimilate. American is an assimilation machine, but we want to maintain some cultural distinctiveness as Jews. Putting on a big display of tacky Jewish-ness (i.e. Hanukkah) is a positive defense mechanism during a time of year when we are assaulted by a tacky display of Christian-ness (i.e. Christmas). 3.) There's even a Zionist aspect to this holiday. Hanukkah has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity also in Israel. As a country which sees itself as a continuation of Jewish sovereignties of antiquity and which prides itself on possessing the first Jewish army in more than a thousand years, this holiday is perfect.