Jews Unsure Why Everyone Else Still Looking Forward to ‘Holidays’
‘Hanukkah is over,’ they say.
North Miami Beach, FL (AP) – With the eight-day festival of Hanukkah concluded this past Sunday evening, Jews are puzzled by other people’s continued anticipation of a holiday, apparently some time next week.
“I like a never-ending celebration as much as the next guy, but it’s over, you know?” says Coral Gables resident Michelle Borofsky, 45. “It’s like the two-month buildup isn’t enough, and half the world refuses to accept that Hanukkah has come and gone. Can we just get on with normal life now?”
Borofsky’s husband Eli, 47, echoes her confusion. “There’s a lot about people I don’t understand, but this one has me completely perplexed,” he says with a shake of the head. “I can handle stores marking Hanukkah with all those pagan trees and poinsettias – I mean, they can’t be expected to know all the details about a minor Jewish holiday. I can even handle all that weird music they play incessantly once Thanksgiving comes around. But come on. It’s already the sixth of Tevet. The next holiday of note is almost two months away,” he said, referring to Purim.
Jews’ collective bafflement over the continuing festivities makes them uncomfortable, says sociologist Anna Philactic. “After centuries of persecution in Europe, American Jewry is deeply appreciative of the welcoming, nurturing environment they found in the United States,” she explains. “They love seeing all the houses and businesses lit up in honor of the Jewish Festival of Lights. Heck, Jews would be fine if they were simply left alone, so that outpouring of love and solidarity from gentiles is wonderful, not to mention everyone emulating Jewish gift-giving this time of year. But when the celebration continues far beyond the appropriate dates, that makes Jews a little insecure about what’s really going on, and about how excited everyone else is for something that’s over and done with.”
Jews everywhere are struggling to explain the prevalence of decorated fir trees. Some attribute them to the Jewish Arbor Day, known as Tu Bishvat, known as the New Year for Trees in Jewish lore. Adding to the confusion is the occasional scene on people’s lawns featuring an infant and several adoring grown-ups, apparently in a barn, an obviously agricultural setting that supports the association with Tu Bishvat. However, Tu Bishvat is still more than a month away, and it remains obscure even to most Jews, let alone to non-Jews.
A red-suited, bearded, jolly figure appears everywhere; Jews attribute that to Hanukkah’s message of struggle against the materialistic, consumerism-driven world view represented by the nation of Edom, whose name means ‘The Red One.’ The man’s flowing white beard is an obvious nod at the traditional Rabbinic appearance, and his use of a kosher species of draft animals to pull his vehicle is an added bonus.
With all the warmth that American society shows the Jewish community, Jews feel reluctant to correct the apparent misperception that the holiday is still in force. “It’s a really good feeling to be this celebrated, it’s a real honoring of our traditions,” says Rabbi Yudah Mann of Congregation Shakketz T’shaktzennu in Seattle. “But we Jews have a collective wariness of speaking out directly against the host culture’s practices, so we’re naturally a bit shy about pointing out the error.”
“But it’s probably harmless, so we’ll probably let it go. It most likely heralds the advent of a much more peaceful era in Jewish relations with our neighbors.”
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