It is the first night of Chanukah, a time I love. But we were told (by the Rabbi) that there are lots of bloggers who are pooh-poohing Chanukah. Who say it is a minor holiday (correct in some respects); it isn’t even in the Bible (true) and finally that it is not politically correct because it celebrates war and aggression, etc. What a ridiculous idea. The modern popular view of Jews is of a bunch of greedy nebishes who walked sheeplike into the ovens of Hitler to be slaughtered by the millions. There is a grain of truth to this, after all, many hundreds of thousands went to their deaths with little resistance; cultural shock and denial? But there is another truth as well. Historians and other educated folks know that there were many who fought bravely and died to avoid that fate (look at the Warsaw ghetto). Nevertheless, there is a basic modern perception of Jew as victim. (The idea of the Israeli Jew as warrior in modern culture and perception is another discussion). Celebrating those who fought and died for religious and ethnic freedom is hardly a bad idea. Chanukah is not in the Bible. As religious holidays go, it isn’t much of one. Yet it has a joyous and wonderful feeling to it. In past years, when my son was young, when we had our annual party all our friends’ kids would attend. We would place the menorah where it could be seen in the window of our home and light the candles. I always asked one question: why do we put the menorah in the window? As the years passed the children learned the answer: “Because we can!” they would yell as one voice. In my lifetime people around the world have not been free or felt free to place their candles in the window, and so it seems very important to me to do so. We have a ragged page of paper, saved from a Temple bulletin of about 14 years ago that has a little bit of reading for each night of Chanukah, a principle or an ideal to think of as you light the candles. For me Chanukah is about justice and freedom and standing up for principle, for keeping your light burning brightly no matter what. What could be more pc than that?
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