In Portsmith, New Hampshire, the UNH & Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center requested that a 9-foot menorah be placed in Portsmouth’s Market Square during the eight days of Hanukkah this December (22nd-30th). Blogger Jeff Dunitz, whose platform is the excellent blog, The Lid, darkly predicts that Portsmith will soon be headed to “Fesivus” like neighboring Durham, which has banned the tree-lighting ceremony (yes, it’s a “holiday tree”) as well as the wreaths thatthe town had previously displayed on town light poles. The town council appareently feared that they were too much of a Christmas reference. Town manager Todd Selig said the town might agree to hang something from the poles, “non-descript star,” to “add light and festivus” to the season.
Dunitz is offended by something else.
“It makes me crazy… the Jewish organizations trying to push for a Chanukiah [the proper name for a menorah, he explains] next to every Christmas tree do not comprehend the full meaning of Hanukkah.”
Nothing goes against the true meaning of Chanukah more than placing a Chanukkiyah near a “holiday tree” or using a Magen David (Jewish star) as a tree ornament. The true meaning of Chanukah is the exact opposite of that multicultural rubbish.
Only one part of the story was the Maccabees fight for getting the Syrian-Greeks out of Israel, and the cleansing and dedication of the Temple. The Hanukkah Story is about a civil war amongst the Jews. Judah Maccabee and the boys were fighting other Jews who had turned away from their faith by combining it with Greek/Hellenistic practices. The resulting assimilation caused a loss of Jewish faith and tradition, and eventually, the Hellenists laws against practicing Jewish rituals.
Let me suggest that if Matthias and his sons were alive today, they would be fighting every Jew who wanted a nine-foot menorah next to a Christmas tree, a star of David next to a cross, or even the massive multi-holiday Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus and Winter Solstice display.
I would also suggest that all Jewish people who celebrate both holidays [by having] a Christmas Tree for the kids, a Hanukkah Bush, or talk about Hanukkah Harry are also missing the meaning of Chanukah. The Maccabees were horrified when an idol was placed in the holy Temple. Rather than trying to fit with “modern” culture, they wanted to make sure that the House of God was a Jewish household. To remember the Maccabees, we should do the same with ours.
Dunitz ends his lecture with a flourish, writing in part,
…As Americans, we are all different, and we must celebrate those differences, not merge them into one hodgepodge of progressive mediocrity celebrating everything at the same time because that is celebrating absolutely nothing….Mixing up Chanukah with other people’s traditions diminishes the light and message of Chanukah as well as those different traditions….
And to my Christian friends: Please don’t go get assimilated on me either. That tree in the mall, town square, or your living room is a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree….You have a beautiful tradition. …Don’t try to make it politically correct by taking away its religious nature. And don’t take away the sacred nature of Hanukkah by shoving it down the collective throats of public Christmas displays.
America is a great country. It is great not because everyone celebrates the same, but because we can all celebrate our differences.