The religious scholars tell us (Jews) that Hanukkah (the holiday formerly known as Chanukah) is not among the important holidays on the Jewish calendar.
So why does it get so much prominence, starting at sundown, 4:51 Thursday on the East Coast?
And why do Jewish holidays begin at night anyway?
Well, that’s easy.
According to the Bible, God was a night owl and created night before day, and thus holidays begin at night.
As to the prominence, I think that’s explained by Hanukkah’s proximity to Christmas.
The birth of Jesus is a Christian holiday, of course, but I think of it as an American holiday, too. That’s why most people get off from work — it is a federal holiday. (I wonder when the atheists will start raising hell about that — and they don’t even believe in hell!)
Anyway, when I was a kid, I noticed Christmas was a big deal, and sometimes, just a bit, maybe I felt left out, like other Jewish kids. The Christian kids got a ton of presents, which maybe created envy. And Christmas trees are a joy to behold.
Up steps Hanukkah. The Festival of Lights.
Hey! You goyim have one day to celebrate? We got eight.
A brief story of Hanukkah: The eight-day celebration commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.
Oil placed in temple lamps that was to last one night lasted eight nights, per legend. The longer story, if you care.
So American Jews got their own winter holiday, which is not “the Jewish Christmas.”
But we don’t take much offense if you say that.
Because in America, unlike most of the rest of the world, Jews have been free to practice their religion without much harrassment.
OK, yeah, there were and are some bigots. There were exclusion clauses in housing (and jobs), and Jews were not welcome everywhere, and many universities had quotas. That’s the past. Mostly.
There still are some scummy remains, as we saw in Charlottesville. “We will not be replaced by Jews!” chanted the morons with the tiki torches. Like we want to replace them at the fryer at Mickey D. Or behind the auto supply counter.
I don’t mean to sound grandiose, but I wonder how many of those knuckle draggers understand the polio shot they took as kids came from a J-E-W? And when they sing “White Christmas,” who wrote it? (For them, a very white Christmas.)
Enough with the identity bragging.
To paraphrase the scholar Chico Escuela, “America been bery, bery good for Jews.”
You turn on the TV and you see “Happy Hanukkah.” On the public square here and there are giant Menorahs.
It means we are welcome, we are appreciated.
We are less than 3% of the population, but we have done all right in Christian America. (Officially, this is not a Christian nation, but it is the overwhelming majority.)
Thank you. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah.