Here’s A “War On Christmas” Angle I Was Not Aware Of….The War On Hannukah

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.”

He continues,

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.

5 thoughts on “Here’s A “War On Christmas” Angle I Was Not Aware Of….The War On Hannukah

  1. This is exactly the point I was making when I said removing the person or event from a celebration renders it nothing more than a bunch of platitudes.

    We seem to think that government needs to get involved in celebratory activities.
    When they do then they go about sterilizing them to a point that the reason for the celebration is actually lost out of fear some votes could be lost or litigation will occur.

    I believe they should steer clear of promoting any celebrations other than events associated with government or its history.

    I also believe that government should allow private groups to temporarily erect religious celebratory artifacts in public spaces. Such displays allow people to enjoy them and facilitates understanding. Public facilities are often rented to private groups without concern if religious activities may occur. In this case, a rental income does not have to be part of the equation.

    Denying the use religious symbols in public areas for creates the potential for creating the perception of promoting one religion over another even if all symbols are banned. One mere reference anywhere sets off a chain reaction within groups feeling slighted.

    Allowing any religious group access eliminates such perceptions and might just facilitate greater understanding and tolerance.

  2. My 2 cents (and we gave up the penny years ago) from Canada is that you can’t be a melting pot and a mosaic at the same time. I’m a mosaic proponent. The US has been more of a melting pot which demands a certain homogeneity.

    No fighting but independent celebration. So Christmas is just that. Not some veiled, weak denial. And Eid is Eid, and … You get the picture. There are no winners but there are no losers or deniers either.

    BUT it gets messy at the margins. My celebration of X does not diminish your Y and I’m not going to apologize for it.

    I’m okay with that but so many are not.

    • Yeah, you can’t really have all cultures at once. You just end up with none. Obscure historian Meic Pearse calls it the “anti-culture” and that’s really a great name for it.

      We are now entering a fantastic, large-scale experiment to find out just how important “traditions” really were all along. For at least the last 50 years, a growing fringe has pushed for “deconstruction” of all western traditions, and that mentality is now becoming the dominant one. The New American has better, cooler, trendier innovations for what was once called “family life;” innovations that don’t involve all of the trappings of The Patriarchy like full-time moms, married parents, monogamy, church, or full-time employment (coincidentally, getting rid of those things leaves a lot more time for binge-watching.) It’s going to be…something.

      • I looked up the author you cited: Meic Pierce. He has a book out titled: Why the Rest Hates the West: Understanding the Roots of Global Rage. The book has been reviewed on Amazon and here is one thoughtful review:

        This is a noble book. The author writes from a Christian perspective to a presumably Christian audience, challenging them to embrace their own history and its values as a means of entering into any meaningful dialogue with other cultures who hold opposing values. He incisively points to the West’s redefinition of “tolerance” as a breaking point with its own history as well as with that of non-Westerners. Whereas the rest of humanity has viewed tolerance as the ability of groups who share opposing viewpoints to negotiate a peaceful co-existence, the modern West has redefined tolerance as “a dogmatic abdication of truth-claims and a moralistic adherence to moral relativism.” Moreover, the modern West uses its cultural influence and military might to impose this anti-values system on the world. Pearse goes on to chronicle the manner in which this way of thinking threatens to unravel traditional culture. He concludes with a call back to traditional morality, asking Christians to engage the non-West from a staunchly Christian perspective rather than abdicating Christianity’s truth claims to the relativistic culture of the West. His point is that the non-West will be more inclined to enter into a dialogue with an honest, self-embracing religious culture than with an a-historical, self-consciously morally relativistic culture.

        Pearse also takes the reader on a historical journey, discussing the manner in which pre-Modern Western society once adhered to a common set of values which was maintained through personal relationships imbued with loyalty (think: Western Civ. 101/ feudal relationships). The past was also marked by a commingling of personal and private life, free from the stark division between these spheres which has come to characterize modern existence. He carefully examines the way in which his pre-modern culture was maintained, even discussing some of its reinforcing elements as mythical. Yet he holds up this constructed reality as starkly contrasting our present, constructed reality, as a better example of how to exist. His call to Christians to return to traditional values is a call to an older social reality that he readily admits is as much a construct as the present day.

        Pearse’s premise seems right that the Modern West is very much out of step with its own past and with the rest of present-day humanity in its turning away from traditional values and in radically redefining tolerance. But he fails to address what is inherently right about the perspective of all of history and the rest of modern humanity. What is it about their constructed reality that is inherently better? Other than that to agree with them (and to “rejoin humanity,” as he urges) will alleviate conflict and at least appear less brash?

        The book appears to have a strong critical and introspective-critical thrust:

        Many of us Americans think, and frequently say, that America is the best country on planet earth, and we do so with patriotic pride, and we seem to be amazed that not everyone around the globe agrees with us. We seem to think that everyone, and we do mean everyone, wants to be an American, and if they don’t, there must be something wrong with them. To entertain even for a moment that we Americans may be culturally, or in any other way, inferior is something that we will not or can not do. Yet Pearse asks us to do just that, and even near the beginning of the book. In the Introduction he writes “there are several factors that make it increasingly urgent for Westerners to obtain a clear view of what makes their own culture tick so that, seeing themselves, they can more clearly understand why the rest of the world considers them – as it most assuredly does – to be dangerously seductive, but domineering, barbarians.” Lest I start getting hate mail for even reviewing this book, let me assure you that I am a patriotic American and there is no other place that I would rather live. However, I am also a Presbyterian, so the idea of introspection and self-critical analysis is not foreign to me without feeling that doing so necessarily means condemnation. Pearse is also obviously of this opinion. A passing reference to the possibility that we might be barbarians in the eyes of others might be hard enough to let go without expressing our own rage, but Pearse has a whole chapter on the subject.

        What I note is that there is a traditionalist and also a right-leaning perspective that is developing among many intellectuals in the West, but it is one that sees the problems and conflicts within the West as coming about because of self-imposed errors.

        If there is going to be a successful return to ‘Christian traditionalism’ that means that every aspect of American life: cultural, social, economic, military and the whole arena of foreign policy will have to be taken into account. That is to say that the practice of Christianity cannot be merely a ‘private’ and ‘silent’ affair.

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