Potato latkes. Dreidels. Judah the Maccabee. Judith the Heroine. The Chanukah Menorah. Blue cardboard boxes of all different coloured candles. Chocolate Chanukah coins. The song, Maoz Tzur. “I had a little dreidel…” Clay
Menorahs made in Hebrew school.
Chanukah is made of memories and for memories. Taste the latkes and jam doughnuts. See the candles burn brightly in the Menorah. Hear the singing of the blessings over the Menorah. Touch the letters engraved on the dreidel: nun, gimmel, hay, shin – “A Great Miracle Happened There.”
Chanukah is a special time for family, friends and children. Chanukah is a Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the weak (militarily) over the mighty, the few (in number) over the many. Chanukah is a celebration of the re-dedication of the Holy Temple after it had been defiled – but not destroyed – by the Greeks. For the Greeks did not wish to destroy the Holy Temple nor the Torah; they wished only to defile the mitzvot (commandments).
The Greeks attempted to lessen their holiness, their uniqueness, their impact on our Jewish lives. “We too, have wisdom,” they declared. “We, too, have gods. We, too, have holidays. Know that your Temple is like our temples. The wisdom of your Divine Torah is like our man-made wisdom. There is nothing particularly holy about them.”
So what do you say to a child who wants a “Chanukah bush,” or who wants a photograph with Santa? What do you do about the pressure of giving Chanukah presents instead of the Jewish custom of giving Chanukah gelt (money).
The easiest response might be: “They have their holiday and we have ours – Chanukah.”
That response might be on the verge of being P.C., but it’s certainly not C. P.- Chanukah Perfect. You see, as soon as we start comparing Chanukah with the 25th of December, or when we try to turn Chanukah into the Jewish equivalent of that day, it is as if we are handing over a victory to the “Greeks.”
Celebrate Chanukah in the true spirit of the holiday – not as a consolation or a competition – but as an opportunity to prove in our own lives that the ancient battle and victory over the Greeks was not in vain.
Explore the themes of Chanukah, including the idea of dedication (the actual meaning of the Hebrew word Chanuka) and Jewish education (or “chinuch” in Hebrew, from the same word as Chanukah).
Light the Chanukah Menorah each night of Chanukah and watch Jewish pride grow as the numbers and strength of the Chanukah lights increase.
Let the lights of the Chanukah Menorah – and all of the beautiful and unforgettable Chanukah traditions, customs, mitzvot and memories – add their pure, holy light to the world.
For more information about Chanukah click here