by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
This coming Sunday is the start of the Festival of Chanukah. For those living in the U.S. or UK (or other Western nations), this year Chanukah falls on the same day as the Xian holiday.
Yet the Jewish people are a people, a culture, a tribe, a religion, and a nation. So while Jews may dwell in New York, and Houston, and Miami, and London, and the culture of those cities is celebrating the religious holiday of the majority – we, the Jewish people, will be celebrating Chanukah. Celebrating when the mighty were delivered into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, when G-d stood by those Jews in that time and place.
And do not misunderstand…the majority of the Jews of that time fell under the sway of the occupying power, the Assyrians Greeks, the world spanning empire of the time, and fell into a culture at odds with Judaism, Jewish values, Jewish religion, Jewish practice, and the Nation of Israel. When Matisiyahu called out “Mi Hashem Aylay – Whoever is for G-d to Me”, only the few responded.
The spirit of Chanukah is Jews standing up for their freedom, standing up for their culture, standing up for the religion and religious practice, and standing up for G-d and His holy Torah.
Dear Jews, when Chanukah begins on December 25 this year, embrace and enjoy your heritage. Light the menorah with your family, fry some latkes or some sufganiot. Go to a Chanukah party. Give out Chanukah gelt (“dmay chanukah” in Hebrew – gifts of money to family). Spin a draydel. And make every one of the 8 nights special!
The Xians should enjoy their holiday and celebrate fully, whether following the secular customs that have become national and/or their religious customs fully. Nothing against them.
But when you’re outside of Israel as a Jew, the only way to deal with the holiday push of the surrounding culture is to FULLY embrace your own. Chanukah is a rich, meaningful and deep celebration – join in!