July 15, 2019

We Need the Message of Hanukkah Now More than Ever

“For many Jews, this Hanukkah will be a particularly charged time of reflection.

The “festival of lights” is often celebrated by contemporary American families as a child-centric seasonal holiday. In modern times, it’s often been framed in popular media as Judaism’s answer to Christmas. But in the wake of October’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which an avowed anti-Semite is accused of killing 11 Jewish worshippers, the holiday’s message and meaning are taking on a more defiant turn.

In an America where anti-Semitic incidents are at an all-time high, according to both the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, Hanukkah has become a more loaded holiday. A time of year that has become synonymous with family and domesticity is becoming a time to reflect on what it means to be Jewish.

Numerous rabbis and community leaders have reported feeling that Hanukkah’s meaning as a holiday about Jewish survival in a diverse religious landscape is more vital in America in 2018 than ever.

“The great strength of America is diversity,” Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman of Brith Sholom Synagogue in Erie, Pennsylvania, told me. “And that’s part of the message of the Hanukkah story. It plays in every year. And it plays in this year even more so.””

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"India’s water crisis offers a striking reminder of how climate change is rapidly morphing into a climate emergency. Piped water has run dry in Chennai, the southern state of Tamil Nadu’s capital, and 21 other Indian cities are also facing the..."

"Such a blackout is coming. It is only a matter of time. Again, leaving aside the growing threats of cyber and terrorist attacks upon our power grid, the fact of the matter is that much of our grid is antiquated junk desperately in need of billion."

"In Israel’s early years—even earlier, in fact, during the decades leading up to independence—the kibbutz played an integral role in creating the country’s economic and political infrastructure. Based on a shared economy and hard work..."

"Scarlett Johansson became something of a conservative hero on Friday for speaking out against identity politics. She told As If magazine, in quotes excerpted by the Daily Mail, “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or..."

"During the 2012 presidential election, there occurred one of those remarkably rare moments when campaign rhetoric actually clarified a large issue. It happened when Barack Obama, speaking without a written text, spoke from his heart and..."

"IN FEBRUARY, LEAKED software code predicted the demise of the back button on the latest version of Google's Android smartphone. Apple did away with the iPhone's home button in 2017. LG’s latest handset allows users to control their devices..."

"I am in the mosh pit of West Hollywood’s El Rey Theatre, jangly from two cups of Zoe Ministries’ excellent self-branded coffee. Twenty 20-somethings in mom jeans, sneakers, and colorful baggy shirts are singing Disney-radio-inflected anthems..."

"Before the advent of scientific evidence and philosophical guidance on the subject, literary odes to the creative and health benefits of walking flourished. No one has been more tireless in reviving the history of exhortations to join the “Order..."

"Facebook and Twitter feeds were buzzing with discussion after the late-May New York Times article declaring that millennials are no longer interested in marriage. The article’s popularity can be attributed, in part, to the uncomfortable truth it..."

"The run happened — or didn’t — maybe five days into the raw-diet experiment. I had formed a sort of fitness pact with a friend to forgo cooked food, and after days of nothing but salads, almonds, sashimi and black coffee, my body felt taut and..."

"Humans have long sought the elixir of youth, so it is not surprising that even non-scientists closely follow the latest research into aging. But is what most people consider simply a fact of life actually a “disease” that can be cured? Or is..."

"It’s no secret that many Jews are struggling to keep up. More and more, middle and even upper-middle class Jews are finding religion to be an increasingly expensive component of their lives. My husband has a good job and I have a burgeoning..."