Friday, December 18, 2009

Why My Hanukkah Kind of Sucked

I know that married life, even in a new city, is supposed to be unremittingly perfect, as is Hanukkah, but I feel that Hanukkah kind of sucked this year, and not only for me. Here are a few gems:

--TH had to work late (didn't get home until 9:00 or 10:00) almost every night this week. On our first Hanukkah as a married couple, we lit candles together only three times. We will not light candles together tonight, either.
--I was allergic to my Hanukkah present from my parents, because it contained wool (but I was fortunate in that the store took it back, and I ordered something else, and my folks were very nice about it).
--My husband's aunt, who is very nice but not Jewish, and who threw a lovely Hanukkah party for the family this year, hung Buddhist good luck charms from her Hanukkiah and told us about it. I thought I might be halakhically required to leave the room, but since she doesn't actually believe in Buddha, I think it was fine from that perspective. But, seriously?
--On a related note, DOES NO ONE UNDERSTAND that Hanukkah is (or at least was, historically) about anti-assimilationism? Does anyone else think it ironic that this is the holiday so many Jews are so keen to turn into a goyish extravaganza?
-- More than a couple of Jews I know either told me directly or posted on Facebook that they were not lighting candles this year because: 1) they are two busy; and/or 2) they forgot to buy candles. Really, Jews? Hanukkah is pretty much the least demanding holiday on the Jewish calendar, and you can't even do that?
--A Hanukkiah (8 branches, plus shamash) is NOT the same thing as a menorah (6 branches, plus shamash). Learn it!
--Some super-frum idiots in Flatbush left their Hanukkiah burning in a house without smoke detectors, and now their little girl is severely burned and fighting for her life. This is not the only story of Hanukkiah-caused fires in New York's ultra-Orthodox community this year. So some genius rabbeim had the great idea to issue a p'sak that you CAN extinguish your Hanukkiah when you leave your house, as long as the candles have burned for 30 minutes. If you're so infallible, rabbis, why didn't you issue this p'sak BEFORE all these accidents happened?
--A major Jewish sex scandal is about to break in The New York Times tomorrow. How awesome for the Jews.
--Someone stole the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from Auschwitz this morning. To paraphrase something my father said in 1972 about the terror at the Munich Olympics, We remember at time when there was pretty good security at that camp.

6 comments:

elf said...

I'm sorry to hear that your Hanukkah sucked. I find that Hanukkah often is kind of a downer, mainly because you're allowed to work, and things can get pretty busy this time of year and overwhelm the holiday. Of course, work issues can also affect things like being able to light candles with your loved one(s).

As for the anti-assimilation message of Chanukkah, I think it's sometimes over-emphasized. Even the Jews who took the side of the revolt against the Greeks did a lot of pretty Greek things, including taking Greek names, writing in Greek language and style, etc. It was only some very specific assimilationist practices involving temple worship that provoked real fighting.

In that spirit, I don't think there's anything wrong with adopting certain "goyish" practices to celebrate Hanukkah. As long as you are actually celebrating Hanukkah and not Christmas, what's the harm in exchanging presents, putting up glitzy decorations, and eating gingerbread Maccabees? (I don't actually know anyone who does that last one; I just threw it in because I like gingerbread cookies. Also, my Hanukkah cookie cutter set came with a person-shaped one that was supposed to be a Maccabee.)

Those are my thoughts for now. Hope things perk up.

frum single female said...

sorry your hanukkah sucked. i love hanukkah, but sometimes its hard to get into it because i also work during hanukkah. that said from a woman who attended four hannukah parties it seems kind of unbelievable. i do agree with you that its unbelievable that some people just dont have time to light the candles. its such an easy mitzvah. even secular jews can really observe it properly.

Off the Derech said...

>Some super-frum idiots in Flatbush left their Hanukkiah burning in a house without smoke detectors, and now their little girl is severely burned and fighting for her life

Can I get a link?

Thanks.

katrina said...

Elf: I totally get that. I just don't want to see polytheistic symbols on a Hanukkiah. That seems particularly ironic, given the whole trying-to-eradicate-polytheistic practice by the sword thing.

Off the D: Well, I found this about the psak: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/43520/P'sak+From+Rav+Yechezkel+Roth+Shlita:+Extinguish+Menorah+Before+Leaving+Homes.html

It turns out that the fire was in Boro Park, not Flatbush. Here is one story: http://assets.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/12/17/2009-12-17_tot_critical_after_brooklyn_menorah_fire_horror.html
BUT there is an updated story saying she is "going to be fine": http://assets.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/12/17/2009-12-17_neighbors_pray_for_chanukah_miracle_as_brooklyn_toddler_fights_for_life_after_me.html
I don't see how that could be, but I don't have more info at the moment

Woodrow/Conservadox said...

At least you weren't sick (as I sort of was - had a cold that left me somewhat miserable, though capable of lighting candles etc).

Miles said...

A Hanukkiah (8 branches, plus shamash) is NOT the same thing as a menorah (6 branches, plus shamash).

My dear, to say that a hanukkiah is not the same thing as a menorah is like saying that an ostrich is not the same thing as a bird. Indeed it is not: it is a kind of bird. Likewise, a hanukkiah is a kind of menorah, namely a nine-branched one made for Hanukkah. If you don't believe me, ask Moses. Did you not have this song in your childhood?:

Hanukkah, o Hanukkah,
Come light the menorah.
Let's have a party;
We'll all dance the hora.