Growing up in the Reform community in the US in the 50s and 60s, I remember the constant discussions of the Chanukah-Christmas dilemma. Was it possible to disengage Chanukah from the seasonal linkage to Christmas, and keep it somehow true to its roots? Or was it doomed to be "the Jewish answer to Christmas," which increasingly meant an orgy of shopping and materialism?
Happy Hanumas? Happy Chrismakah? Merry Chanukah? The winter holidays are fast approaching. It's time for non-celebrants of Christmas to read yourselves for the onslaught of seasonal niceties from store clerks and acquaintances.
The history of Hanukkah squeezes us between two competing narratives: one of idealization
As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the Jewish calendar and the secular calendar offer a strange convergence in the United States this year as Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide. The Jewish media has been full of humorous articles about combined menus (like this one from Jewish cooking expert Tina Wasserman) featuring foods like latkes with cranberry sauce, and the term “Thanksgivukkah” has been coined to describe the merged holiday.
I’m pretty sure my family coined the term Christmukkah. We were interfaith hipsters, once we realized that the alternative, Festivus, wasn’t really for the restofus.
A few weeks ago I attended a local event featuring Joseph Goldstein, the world-renowned Buddhist teacher and author who was here in Brattleboro to help the Vermont Insight Meditation Center celebrate its fifth anniversary. I enjoyed the gathering immensely and was energized by seeing so many bri