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Happy Hanukkah From Israel!:

The letters on the dreidels spell "Happy Hanukkah" in Hebrew. Natalie is spinning a giant dreidel, and modeling a menorah hat. Sufganiot (Hanukkah donuts) are in the backdrop on the right.

therut (mail):
Gosh she is growing up. She looks like you. Happy Hanukkah!!
12.27.2008 9:30am
Hoosier:
OK. IANAMOT. So stupid goy question here. But my Israeli friends tell me that Hannukah is viewed as "Jewish Christmas," a made-up American holiday, in Israel. But my Israeli friends are what one might call "Conservadox/UTJ". So I don't know if this is a factor.

Enlighten me!
12.27.2008 11:09am
Reader5000:
I am not Jewish. This post offends me.
12.27.2008 11:27am
David Warner:
Here we go Maccabees, here we go! Beat those Seleucid Hellenizing wusses!
12.27.2008 11:51am
Hadur:
She'll hate you in 10 years for posting that picture on this blog, but it's adorable nonetheless.
12.27.2008 1:04pm
Fub:
Natalie is spinning a giant dreidel...
Hmmm. I'd swear she is spinning a modern plastic molded version (virtually identical size and shape) of a spun sheet metal humming top I recall as a kid in the late 1940s. The metal version had holes around the perimeter that acted as fipples. It hummed or whistled when spun fast enough. To spin it, one lifts and presses the screw plunger by the handle (yellow, just above Natalie's hand). The metal version had a wooden handle, and no stationary base. You just spun it on a hard surface.

We spun dreidels before school and during recess in early grade school down in the Mis'ipi delta. The more hip goyem learned the dreidel game from the Jewish kids. We all knew the teachers would bust us for shooting dice, but not for spinning dreidels. They were soooo unhip they never figured out what those piles of pennies and crackerjack prizes were.
12.27.2008 1:38pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Hoosier,

Hanukkah is a real Jewish holiday. It was not invented in America as an analogue to Christmas. It is, however, true, that for many American Jews Hanukkah has become more important than it was traditionally in response to the desire to have a counterpart to Christmas. As is often the case, the truth is between the two extremes. Even very orthodox and anti-assimilationist Jews are well aware that Hanukkah is not an American invention. One's attitude toward the increased prominence of Hanukkah will, however, vary with one's attitude toward assimilation.
12.27.2008 2:13pm
Stevie Miller (mail):
Happy holidays, David!

Now, any chance you are worried for your daughter's safety considering the latest Israeli offense against Hamas?

Stay safe!!
12.27.2008 2:15pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
OK. IANAMOT. So stupid goy question here. But my Israeli friends tell me that Hannukah is viewed as "Jewish Christmas," a made-up American holiday, in Israel. But my Israeli friends are what one might call "Conservadox/UTJ". So I don't know if this is a factor.

Enlighten me!
Chanukah is a real Jewish holiday, celebrated by all Jews of any level of observance. But it's a minor one, where children get small amounts of money and some candy, and some candles are lit each night.

Chanukah as a major holiday, as a "Jewish Christmas," is a made-up American holiday to make Jewish kids feel better about being left out of the whole Christmas spectacle. The notion that it's an important holiday, significant to Jews in the way Christmas is significant to Christians, is a made-up American thing. (Religious Jews don't even have to cease work for Chanukah, the way they do for important holidays.) It's a fun holiday for Jews, even for religious ones, but a minor one. (And no, there's no such thing as a Chanukah Bush or as Chanukah Harry bringing presents to Jews.)
12.27.2008 2:16pm
Fub:
David M. Nieporent wrote at 12.27.2008 2:16pm:
Chanukah as a major holiday, as a "Jewish Christmas," is a made-up American holiday to make Jewish kids feel better about being left out of the whole Christmas spectacle. The notion that it's an important holiday, significant to Jews in the way Christmas is significant to Christians, is a made-up American thing. ...
That fetching menorah hat Miss Natalie Bernstein is modeling strikes me as an example of the morphing of the holiday. I'm sure no Judaica scholar, but I'd bet shekels to sufganiot that menorah hats are very recent.

Some pagan Nordic mid-winter traditional celebrations featured girls wearing candle headpieces. The lighting of menorah candles corresponds approximately with the Catholic traditional practice of lighting Advent candles daily. Mix them all together these days and you get menorah hats and "Jewish Christmas".

So, here's wishes for the Bernstein family having a warm, cozy and quiet holiday, traditional or morphed, with plenty of good food, good cheer and important gifts, large, medium or small. Everyone else too.
12.27.2008 3:09pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Chanukah is more than just a minor holiday in Israel, despite the lack of competition with Christmas. The kids get two days off from school, there are holiday sales in the malls, people invite their families over to light Chanukiot (menorahs) and eat donuts, and preschools have Chanukah parties where the kids sing the songs they learn. It's a more popular holiday among the broad swatch of the Israeli public than, say Shavuot, which is traditionally much more important. In the U.S., Chanukah gained prominence because of Christmas. In Israel, because it's a nationalistic holiday celebrating the independence of the last Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael before modern Israel.
12.27.2008 3:58pm
TerrencePhilip:
David,

thanks for the post, and y'all stay safe.
12.27.2008 5:12pm
LM (mail):
Happy Chanukah. Enjoy.
12.27.2008 5:12pm
LM (mail):
David Bernstein,

"Happy Hanukkah From Israel!"

and

"Chanukah is more than just a minor holiday in Israel" [...]

What's up with the transliterations?
12.27.2008 5:16pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I prefer the CH spelling, but the other one is more common.
12.27.2008 5:18pm
DG:
Mmmm.Donuts. All that needs to be said.
12.27.2008 6:07pm
George Weiss (mail) (www):
adorable
12.27.2008 7:22pm
Hoosier:
Thanks for the responses. And I chose my words wrong. I didn't mean to imply that Haunnukah was not a holiday at all. Rather, I meant that it was not a major holiday before it came into "competition" with Christmas in the US. It's historically minor, in comparison with, say, the High Holy Days,the New Year, or Sandy Koufax's Birthday.

DB--Your answer suggests that in Israel, it is a Zionist holiday, as opposed to a (strictly speaking) religious holiday. Is that correct? If so, that might explain the derisive attitude of my religious friends.

I would think this is similar to the role played by St. Patrick's Day among my race. It has long been a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church. But the Irish began to transform it into a national--and nationalistic--holiday about a century ago.
12.27.2008 10:30pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
As a dedicated potato pancake fan, I'm a bit saddened that the Ashkenaz standard latke has given way to the Sephardi donut. But that makes me wonder why Eastern European Jews did not pick fried dough to commemorate the miracle of oil self-sufficiency to begin with. After all, Poles are famous for their jelly doughnuts (paczki), which make an appearance sizzling in deep fat on Mardi Gras. (Not only did Catholics say farewell to meat (Carne vale), but they used up other fattening foods before Lent's privations began.)
12.27.2008 11:50pm
I'm a Viking and my hair is on fire:
"Some pagan Nordic mid-winter traditional celebrations featured girls wearing candle headpieces."

Were the candles lighted? Bit dangerous. Their hair could catch fire.
12.28.2008 1:27am
LM (mail):

"Some pagan Nordic mid-winter traditional celebrations featured girls wearing candle headpieces."

Were the candles lighted? Bit dangerous. Their hair could catch fire.

See The Ref. (I recommend it regardless, but it does have a brief, entertaining demonstration of that ritual.)
12.28.2008 2:31am
Alice #2:
Do a closeup of that little girl's face, folks. She's got beautiful eyes! Very pretty little girl. Happy Hanukkah, David. Have a safe return to the USA.
12.28.2008 1:58pm
Hoosier:
The candles made a lot of sense during mid-winter holidays in Northern Europe. Even if the festivals were pagan in origin, and only baptized later, the fact remains: It is really dark for a long time.

Prior to electricity, I would have been lighting as many candles as possible, just to stave off depression and insanity. Hell, I would have been burning people in big wicker baskets just for the light and warmth. (Plus the sound of screaming is so comforting on a cold winter's night. When it's not you who's screaming.)
12.28.2008 3:43pm
Fub:
LM wrote at 12.28.2008 2:31am:
See The Ref. (I recommend it regardless, but it does have a brief, entertaining demonstration of that ritual.)
Apparently an older (Roman) traditional midwinter or solstice celebration with candle crowns morphed into a celebration of St. Lucia.
12.28.2008 3:58pm

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