‘Tis The Season To be Jewishby Andrea Simantov November 27, 2017
As hard as the advertising companies in this corner of the world may try, Christmas just doesn’t have the marketing appeal that it does in the West. It isn’t that Christmas doesn’t happen here; Jerusalem is where the entire episode unfolded. For anyone who wants to re-live the birth, life, death and/or tale of Jesus replete with mangers, Magi and lambs, this is the place. But insofar as commercial significance goes, the Yuletide season is Dudsville in Jerusalem. Even when some chubby guy dresses up in the classic red suit and white beard, the assumption is that he is just another nutty rabbi from Meir Shaarim.
(Factoid: The Jerusalem municipality distributes free Christmas trees to on designated days and while a few folk do take advantage of this generous offer, I think the line would be longer if they handed out knishes.)
Hanukkah is a different ball of wax. Every third street corner boasts a ten-foot Chabad menorah that reminds even the most secular yid that ‘A Great Miracle Happened Here: Nes Gadol Ha’ya Po.’ School is recessed and parents return from work early to light candles, give out presents and attend family parties. The most valued ritual of the holiday for many is the serving of foods deep-fried in oil. Jelly-filled and plain donuts (sufganiyot) and latkes (potato pancakes for anyone born in Iowa) are represented at every meal for eight days and nights while cholesterol levels spike alarmingly. Hebrew language Weight Watcher groups enjoy burgeoning membership in the weeks following the Festival of Lights as (mostly) women strive to reconnect with their inner Bar Rafaeli.