November 30, 2010

On being a bad Jew at Hanukkah....

This week is Hanukkah, and last year I wrote about this holiday. This is one of my more popular posts, and here it is again. This is my first ever rerun. Or is it a classic...?

So apparently Hanukkah begins this weekend. I say "apparently" because if it wasn't printed on my calendar at work, or my non-Jewish boyfriend hadn't emailed me with the start date, the whole thing might have slipped by me.

What is Hanukkah? It is the Festival of Lights, an eight-day celebration commemorating the rededicating of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabee revolt in the 2nd century BC. According to the Talmud, there was only enough oil to burn the eternal flame for one day, and yet it lasted eight days, the exact time it took to prepare more oil.

Why am I a bad Jew? Well, I had to google what Hanukkah is to have the info above. Oh, and I don't celebrate the holidays. Or eat kosher. Or go to synagogue. Or follow any of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). And I like boys. And not Jewish ones.

Truth is, Jews have lots and lots of holidays, and Hanukkah isn't really one of the major ones; it's more of a kids holiday, and has over time morphed into a pseudo-Christmas substitute. Not that I observe any of the others either.

Some people are traditionalist and follow the letter and spirit of religious holidays. Others treat the rules more like a buffet where they pick and choose what they want. I just don't really participate. I was raised essentially as a high holiday Jew, and I guess am still a cultural Jew, though basically agnostic --- you embrace whichever set of beliefs fits you, I haven't found something that fits me.

I celebrated Hanukkah with my family when I was growing up, which we did as a gift-giving and family feasting holiday rather than a religious one, and since then have often celebrated Christmas with friends, and was at first surprised by the lack of religion in the gatherings. I did not have a menorah (the nine-branch Hanukkah candelabra) until K bought me one last year.

This is a great time of year; I believe holidays are about friends and family, and I have those. Time together, lots of food, exchanging a few gifts with those you love, spoiling the canine kids --- it's all good to me. And yes the rituals are enticing; we have both a Christmas tree and a Menorah... damn, totally forgot, I gotta buy candles in the next 17 hours!


00dozo said...

Oy! I gotta get the Menorah out! Thanks for the remiinder (no, I'm not Jewish, but grew up with them and Italians - and my step-father was Jewish, too - talk about guilt!)

But, did you ever notice that the damn Hanukkah candles never fit in the Menorah??

Annie (Lady M) x said...

I remember this post from last year.... and you are right.... it was a bloody good 'un. Coincidentally, I was just reading about Hanukka because it starts tomorrow doesn't it? Apparently there are 16 different recognised spellings of the word. Actually, that is a bit of a boring statistic thinking about it.

Anyway, Happy Chanukah to you!

Canadianbloggergirl said...

I am Roman Catholic, but like like you mentioned, I pick and choose which things to follow. I think that you have the right idea: family friends gift giving and great food!

ps. I'm a new follower!

Jabacue said...

Happy Hanukkah Brahm!

Lauren said...

Happy Hanukkah anyway! I never knew what it was all about. So interesting.

Vodka Logic said...

Happy time together with the family. Great post...thanks for sharing it again.

Ray's Cowboy said...

Happy Hanukkah. I have my Menorah and Dreidel up. Hope you have a wonderful day



predictably, it took a goy to bring a menorah into the house...
so we get it, you're not kosher, neither in bed nor at the table. you've just spared yourself the expense of a second fridge and stove...

meleah rebeccah said...

I have my Menorah out, and I'm bracing myself. My mother will be spoiling my son for the next 8 days. Actually, we are Jewish & Italian. So, I've been celebrating BOTH Holidays for my whole life. And any time my family wants to get together and celebrate, is just fine with me.

I also had NO IDEA today was the 1st night of Hanukkah. Thanks to my friends on Facebook for reminding me! And I do not eat kosher. Or go to synagogue either. Guess Im a bad Jew too.

Brahm (alfred lives here) said...

The Jewish and Italian mix, or any mix, sounds great... I think is all about the company and food.

And my husband has reminded me that we will not have a menorah this year as it is in storage with most of my stuff as we wait for our house to be finished. Oops.

The good news is I see approximately 8 little gifts waiting (uh, under the Christmas tree).

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