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How Do You Spell That?

December 23, 2008

Chanukah; Hannukah; and both without the final “h”. I am guessing in Hebrew there is just one spelling but in English…good grief. I never know what spelling to choose, neither does Hallmark. Non-Jews think it is “like” Christmas, just as they think Passover has someting to do with Easter. Narcissistic; natural I suppose, but very wrong. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the most important figure (aside from God for those who believe God and Jesus are two separate entities) in Christianity (thus “christ”ianity). It is about a person, quintessential to the core beliefs of all christian sects and faiths. Chanukah is the celebration of an idea, the ideal of freedom; the idea that standing up for what you believe is right and good. A core belief to be sure, but not essential to Jewish dogma. The history of the Jews is fraught with enslavement and the fight for freedom. Generally the enslavement has been based on religious persecution but it is the history of the people, not the central religious idea. And so the two holidays are very different. In Israel, people love Chanukah (sp?) but there isn’t much gift-giving or decorating about it, I think. In America I think the gift giving and decorating comes as a result of parents feeling guilty that their children don’t experience the excesses of the season like the children who celebrate Christmas. I personally like lights so we put light on the house, although I can’t do red and green (we just do white and blue). And Chanukah is a festival of light (you could argue and our Rabbi said). I love our menorah collection because each has a story and a history, so we light them all, the house is ablaze with candles for an hour each night. And we exchange a (one) gift each night, mostly smaller. Other than that we just go about our business, to work and school and what have you. Where I live they don’t close schools or offices, banks or businesses for Chanukah. They don’t even know how to spell it.

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