is just around the corner
up Jewish in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, Christmas
for me involved driving around with my Mom and sisters to
different neighborhoods and admiring all the Christmas lights.
That and hearing from my few non-Jewish friends about all
the great gifts they got, and, "Oh yeah, did you get
a lot of neat stuff for Hanukkah?"
Im afraid Hanukkah is really not the same ballgame as
Christmas. And I think I can speak for most Jewish people
in screaming, "Shut up about Santa Claus, theres
no Jewish equivalent and Im not sure Santa even exists
except in department stores." I definitely think that
whoever made up "a Hanukkah Charlie" definitely
wasnt a Jewish person.
Ive always heard non-Jewish people asking, "Dont
you have a Hanukkah Charlie or something?" Let me make
it perfectly clear here: NO, NO, and NO!
we have eight days of Hanukkah with usually a gift an evening
for the children. The candles are lit after sunset as part
of the celebration of the festival of lights. Over 2000 years
ago, when the Jews recaptured the Temple from Syrian invaders,
there was only enough oil to keep the holy eternal light,
which stood before the altar, lit for one day. Yet the lamp
continued to burn for eight days.
miracle was symbolically represented by the fact that the
original menorah had but one light and todays menorah
has nine arms; eight to represent the eight day miracle and
one to light the others. According to education-world.com:
then on, every year at that time, Jews have celebrated with
the Festival of Lights. Candles are lit at sundown for eight
nights in a row. Today's menorahs have nine branches; the
ninth branch is for the shamash, or servant light, which is
used to light the other eight candles. People eat potato latkes,
exchange gifts, and play dreidel games. And as they gaze at
the light of the menorah, they give thanks for the miracle
in the Temple long ago."
way, latkes are (and Im not sure how to explain this),
but a lay version is something like the hash brown potatoes
you get at McDonalds for breakfast, but a million times better.
Dreidels are small wooden tops with Hebrew letters on each
side used to play a game. Which, I might add, I had never
played until this year. Since Hanukkah came the day after
Thanksgiving this year, and I was in Cleveland at Moms,
we got to play it together. And although Hanukkah may not
compete totally with Christmas, its a wonderful holiday
in its own right, filled with tradition, miracles and joy.
Christmas to all and may visions of dreidels spin in your
Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career
in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from
Caroga Lake here in Fulton County. Previous columns may be
accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com"