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Saturday, July 13, 2024
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The Battle Cry of Hanukkah

Arynne Wexler
Tablet, Dec. 5, 2023

“The story of the Maccabees is one of defiance and anti-assimilation. It’s about hard-as-nails Jews who fight for survival. It’s time we bring that back.”

I hate Hanukkah.

Wait, let me revise that. I hate what Hanukkah has become.

A minor holiday in Israel, Hanukkah is often the one holiday celebrated by secular Jews in the diaspora. This could be a great thing, except that this story of resilience and faith has been boiled down to a materialistic echo of Christmas. We’ve completely lost sight of its ikar, its essence, and instead been left with a reminder of the failures and assimilation of the American Jew.

The typical understanding that most people have of the holiday is that a group of Jews called the Maccabees were the underdogs in a fight against their Greek oppressors, they lit candles that burned for eight nights when there was only enough oil for one, and that’s why we now light the menorah.

Except Hanukkah is not just a cute story about an oil miracle or a time for presents. The plotline in the books of the Maccabees is as good as a high-budget HBO series, filled with gory scenes, bravery, chiseled naked men, and backstabbing.

.. [To read the full article, click here]

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