‘Tis the season – Hanukkah is in full bloom, undoubtedly because of its proximity to Christmas.  According to Judaism 101, “Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews!) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration” (Think Hanukkah bush with a Jewish star on top.)

A recent visit to a big box store confirmed the presence of oodles of Hanukkah inventory.  The display included not only the usual menorahs and candles, but pasta in the shape of dreidels and Jewish stars, even a blue stocking inscribed with the words Happy Hanukkah!  All this “Hanukkah fever” for a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar!

But after remembering that Hanukkah actually commemorates the first recorded example of a fight – and victory – for religious freedom, a concept as relevant today as it was in 164 BCE, I got to thinking:  Maybe Hanukkah isn’t such a minor holiday after all.

Barbara Russek



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