Sunday, December 17

Chanukah is Here!

It’s Chanukah!

Chanukah is here! The ‘Festival of Lights’!
As a kid, before Monsey was homogenously Jewish, there were loads of people who celebrated the Other Holiday and they had loads more lights than we did. Their homes were bedecked with twinkly lit baubles in all different shapes and colours with huge illuminated figurines of reindeers, candy canes, and fat men in red suits that made the electric company rub their greedy hands with glee. I mistakenly thought they were celebrating the ‘Festival of Lights’.

It was only as I grew older that I was able to look at the Chanukah candles and appreciate their quiet sophistication imparting their ancient message and feel that I was not missing out on the garish commercialism that now characterises the Other Holiday.

Besides, there are so many differences between Chanukah and the Other Holiday:

#1- Our legendary men might be overweight, and they probably would have beards but there is no way any self respecting Jew would hurl himself down a soot covered chimney to deliver presents. Lehavdil a million Havdalos, our undead is very civilised; after all, we open the door and welcome in our white bearded man. (Plus, there’s no milk and cookies for our man- we offer ours a huge cup of wine.) Not only that, but I don’t know any Jews worth their borscht who own chimneys at all.

Now, before I get inundated with mail from ‘Jews for Chimneys’ I would just like to say that I’m generalising for a purpose here.
Gotit? Anyway, if you do have a chimney and like to sit in front of cozy fires in the winter, my guess is that you chop the wood by yourself and have shelaqued bagels with painted scenes hanging on your walls. If that’s so, I have nothing to say because you are in a different category of Jew altogether. Anyone who has to take down their artwork for Pesach, is just well, different.

#2- Cooking doesn’t scare us. In most magazines, the big talk is about cooking for the big meal on the Other Holiday. They dictate to their readers how to prepare menus, give them shopping lists for ingredients and organise their cooking schedules. This is because it’s soooo very difficult to arrange a five course meal, isn’t it?
We do it every Friday night.
Big whooping deal.
The only extra thing we do on Chanukah, is make Latkes and donuts, but we don’t have to take a Valium to ‘get through it’.

#3- We have fewer songs about Chanukah. In the beginning of Chanukah, I always think ‘I Have a Little Dreidel’ is the sweetest song my little ones could ever sing, so much so that I just want to thank the person that composed that cute little ditty. By the end of Chanukah, I have had enough of that clay dreidel and all I want to do to the composer is throttle him.
Never mind, Nachas comes with a price.

The Other Holiday has so many songs, some of them really terrific.
The only problem I have with them is that I can’t seem to get them out of my head. I know this is genetic.
I have a clear recollection of shopping with my Mother and wanting the earth to swallow me up when she sang, ‘I’m Dreaming of a White…’ out LOUD in a Hungarian accent, in a Chassidishe Mocher Seforim. Apparently, I tend to act similarly because my kids are forever telling me to ‘Shush!’ when we go to Jewish stores at this time of year.
It must be a subconscious thing.

Chanukah is really a holiday about Us vs. Them.
I find it fascinating that even the name ‘Chanukah’ separates Us from Them.
Unless you are Scottish or Swiss (hey, maybe they’re the lost tribes?) or an Arab (they don’t count- they’re cousins), only a Heimishe can pronounce the ‘Cha’ in Chanukah.

Here is a Chanukah synopsis;

They wanted us to act like Greeks
They didn’t want us to practise as Jews.
We fought them.
We won.
We couldn’t find oil.
We found oil.
Let’s eat.

Have a Fabulous Chanukah!!!!


At 12:51 AM, Blogger Hila said...

Chanukah, oh Chanukah come light the menorah! dee dee...

I like your run down of the chag at the end of the post. Awesome job, as usual!

Happy Chanukah!

At 3:40 AM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Happy chanukah it's my favorite holiday.

At 5:46 AM, Blogger ~ Sarah ~ said...

"Cooking doesn’t scare us" --> it's funny what you get used to ;)

" I can’t seem to get them out of my head" --> same. it's not very good. the tunes are just so damn catchy!

happy chanukah!!

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Mia said...

Well, the Swiss might be able to pronounce the CH but can´t say Channuka right :) (definitely not the lost tribe....)

Happy Channuka!

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Nemo said...

I kinda like the Xmas songs too. There's something sentimental about it all, especially during a snowstorm, sipping hot chocolate while lounging in my flannel pajamas.....

As if!

At 4:12 PM, Blogger kishmech said...

You gotta hear adam sandler's chanuka songs, this is his third version, i can't find his first and second online...i'll look later...they're hilaaarious.

I like the one that starts off with a's kwwwwwiiiiis-maaaaaas.


At 8:34 PM, Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

There are plenty of Chanuka songs, while only a few in english there are a bunch in hebrew and so it's plenty.

Very creative post :)

Happy Chanuka

At 10:13 PM, Blogger cruisin-mom said...

It always comes down to: let's eat. (by the way, I love Christmas music...mostly written by Jews of course)

At 1:27 AM, Blogger Sara with NO H said...

I had a whole conversation with someone the other day about how much I love xmas music. I can seriously sit and sing to it like I was part of the choir lol.
Mrs. Kasmaba I wish I could be by you for chanukah. Sounds much more fun than my current position. No parties this year for me. Which might mean 5 less pounds to worry about too...

At 2:18 AM, Blogger TRW said...

Excellent! You're soooo right, as usual. And...made me smile - as usual.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger tafka PP said...

Well, harking back to my school days- I always found it useful to use substitute names at Carol Service... think of the potential- "Justin" for the name needing two syllables, "Bob" for the name needing one...

And LOL about the cooking- I can remember Women's Own's double feature about preparing your sprouts "early" - in October!!

Finally (and you *knew* this was coming) my parents have not one functioning chimney, but two. And no chametzdik artwork either. But as yet, to my knowledge no fat men in red suits have ever climbed down either of them. Regrettably.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Hilarious...per usual. Or do I say, "Chilarious"! (not to be mistaken for a take on the word "cholera"!)

I'm Swiss via my mom. I'm "chappy" you put us in the spotlight.

Happy Chanukah to you and your family.

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Shoshana said...

Happy Chanukah!!!

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

what you need to try is Chanuka in Australia or South AFrica
Coming in from the pool to light candles with your dripping wet costume
BBQ ouside ahhhhhhhhhh

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

Chnanukah sure beats any lame copy.
I love your examples but your forgot, the kids actually thank the parents and grandparents for the gifts rather than a fictious person.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Love the chimney part!

A Jew would prefer a good argument, or the rendition of an opinion any time over just about anything else.

Happy chanukah.

I love to watch the menorahs light up at the kotel. You can watch them too. (or google the kotel is great.)

At 10:37 PM, Blogger kishmech said...

Sevivon sov sov sov
Chanuka hu chag tov
Chanuka hu chag tov
sevivon sof sof sof

One little candle one little candle burning bright, light the menorah light the menorah because it is chanka tonight.....etc etc

3. latke latke hope in the pan, dance and jump as fast as you can fry and sizzle merrily because you're the one i'll eat you see.

4.. Dreidle dreidle dreidle etc

5. Maoz tzur

6. yevanim

MMMMMM you're right ...ppl ....we need some more chanuka songs

At 12:02 AM, Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

7 Chanuka oh chanuka

8 Al hanisim

9 light up the nights- MBC

10 mi y'mllel- same album

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

*mi y'mellel

At 2:26 PM, Blogger RaggedyMom said...

Anything to do with "Ch" reminds me of our wedding video - my Belgian brother-in-law (they say "ch" pretty well too, a little breathily) practiced so many times only to say "Mazel tov to Katan and Challah!"

RaggedyAnn's class sang about fifteen songs at their Chanukah performance last week, but many of them were Israeli, as are her teachers.

Bring on the oil!

At 2:27 PM, Blogger RaggedyMom said...

p.s. My sis-in-law made her latkes using the big purple Lubavitch cookbook (Spice and Spirit) and they came out great. That book taught me how to cook!

At 7:47 PM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Very cute...
so true..I hear my customers talk about their BIG yontiff meals a month before Thanksgiving..and I'm rolling my eyes..we do this so often..!
How did santa get that pot belly anyhow..what excuse does her have...?..Theres no Kosher deli anywhere near the North Pole..

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

I grew up in "Montana", where we were one of the only Jewish families on the block, and certainly the only religious ones. Ours was one of the only houses without lights (although my parents finally caved and bought some for our Sukkah a few years ago :) ). I totally agree with you on all of your points, though, and you made me laugh. :-D

At 6:40 AM, Blogger bernie said...

Yes, the essence of every Jewish Holiday: They tried to kill us. We're still here - let's eat.
I love it.

I linked to your article at Chanukah 2006 - The Carnival of Lights

At 6:40 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I am a Jew with a fireplace. :)

At 9:14 AM, Blogger kasamba said...

You have such a good voice!

You too!

They are!

Well, that's cleared up then!

Does the hot chocolate have marshmellows?

Kish: That was too funny!


Me too!

Sara with no H:
You are always invited!!! My house is always partying- Chanukah or not!

Great idea!
Two chimneys? Blimey.

Happy Chhhhhhanukah!

You too!

Now THAT sounds gooood!


That was a great link- thanks!

You sing it girl!

You too!

Yes, bring it on!
I LOVE that cookbook!

Lol! Good point!

Wherever you are there is light!

Why Bernie! Thanks!

I figured;p

At 1:56 AM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

checks in to get my message

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Chana said...


I hate being in stores this time of year. Years ago I sang in a symphony orchestra chorus and I probably have sung every obscure "carol" there is. I hate that I know how to pronounce Wensceslas, never mind that I know he was a king and that he went somewhere. I no longer have any need for this information, but yet as I am standing in the checkout lane I realize that it's been fifteen minutes since I heard the song played and I am still hearing it in my head...

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