Monday, December 14, 2009

Rant #152: It's Hanukkah! (Part 2)

Yes, it is Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Tonight is the fourth night, so by tonight, the eight-day holiday is half over.

Unfortunately for some, the holiday was over a long time ago because it really never began, doesn't exist, and doesn't need to be celebrated.

I am talking about the vandals who routinely desecrate menorahs around the country. It seems a hotbed of this type of behavior is found in my own backyard in Suffolk County, New York.

Yes, the neighboring county to mine (I live in Nassau) routinely has a number of desecrations each year, and this year is no different. Several were reported over the weekend, and I know that before the holiday is out, there will be several more.

Beyond anti-Semitism, I believe this type of vandalism is perpetuated by the belief by many ignorant people that Hanukkah is a second- or third-rate event, simply Jewish Christmas. Why should these symbols be up when there are symbols of Christmas that will cover all of these bases?

This is perpetuated by the media, who cover Hanukkah barely, and when they do report about the holiday, it is as if it were an alternate celebration. I, personally, have taken to task a local columnist for Newsday who last year actually characterized the holiday using those words, and she does it ever year with no reprisal. I didn't bother this year. Why should I waste my time?

Also, famous Jewish personalities are torn during the time of year. Many refuse to exhibit their Jewishness and would rather show how "homogenized" they are into the mainstream. This is particularly prevalent with musicians and singers, including Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow and the like, who record Christmas albums but do not acknowledge the fact that they are Jews.

This year, Bob Dylan has joined that group. He wavers between being Jewish and not being Jewish on almost a yearly basis, so this LP is really no surprise, but it is disappointing nonetheless.

Yes, I know that Irving Berlin and Mel Torme set the tone for this type of "from the outside looking in" behavior, but heck, these are celebrated singer/songwriters--if they can write songs about Christmas, couldn't they do the same for Hanukkah?

The major TV networks really don't even mention Hanukkah in their programming--when was the last time you saw a Hanukkah special on a major network?

Several department stores--including Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer--used to have an all-inclusive "holiday" atmosphere in their stores and in their advertising this time of year. A year or two ago, under mounting public pressure, they went back to a wholly Christmas program.

You can look at this two ways. The major holiday this time of year is Christmas, and just like Hanukkah isn't the Jewish Christmas, well, Christmas is not the Christian Hanukkah. I understand that. Majority rules, and certainly, more people are non-Jews than they are Jews.

But I feel that there is a bit of anti-Semitism involved here too. Why even bother with Hanukkah? It doesn't count, especially in relation with Christmas.

And don't get me started on Kwanzaa. To link Hanukkah and Kwanzaa together on the same plane is like linking the Yankees with a sandlot team. Sure, they both play the same game, but on way different levels.

There is nothing wrong with Kwanzaa, and for those that celebrate it, I wish them a happy holiday. However, don't equate a holiday that has been on the books since the 1960s with one that has been in existence for thousands of years.

Anyway, in this politically correct world, we supposedly accept all creeds, colors and beliefs, but do we really?

I feel this more during this time of year than any other. When my son was little, he always asked me why they didn't have any Hanukkah shows on TV, and it was really hard to provide him with an answer that he could understand.

Heck, even as an adult I don't understand it.

When I have relatives--Jewish relatives--who send our family Christmas cards, I know that something is very wrong ... very, very wrong.

This type of behavior only feeds into the vandalism, making it OK to desecrate symbols of other religions, because, heck, Hanukkah doesn't count.

And the wishy washy attitude of public officials on this is particularly disarming.

I look forward to the rest of Hanukkah, and also to Christmas. Both holidays have co-existed for thousands of years, but it is time that the ignorant became enlightened.

Tolerance is golden during this time of year. Let's all practice it.

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