This year Christmas and Chanukah are at the same time!
Christmas in Israel is not really a thing.
Is everything wrapped in green, red, silver. and gold? Nope.
Are the streets festooned with lights of every color? Nope.
Ben Yehuda/ Zion Square. No festooned lights, but a giant Chabad menorah
Is there a Santa booth so that parents can take pictures of their usually crying and nervous children asking for things for Christmas? Nope.
Christmas carols while shopping? I was out today and didn’t hear a single one, so Nope. Youtube is a good source of American Jews adding their voices to Chanukah culture. This year’s Maccabeats offering is an homage to Hamilton.
Maccabeats – Hasmonean: A Hamilton Chanukah
(*Note to email readers: This post has a lot of pictures and video links that don’t seem to show up in the email. So come to the site to see the videos.)
Christmas cookies, Christmas fudge, gingerbread, fruit cake? Nope, nope, nope, and thankfully nope. We have donuts.
These are the fancy ones. There are also yucky, I mean, plain, old-fashioned, jam-filled ones. Source
Christmas trees? N . . . well, I did find one at the, ahem, cough, YMCA, of course.
Are the television channels playing every snow-themed, Christmas-y movie or show ever made? Nope.
A Christmas Carol – any of the many versions? Nope.
It’s a Wonderful Life? Well, I like that one so I try to watch it. I have the DVD.
The Grinch? Nope.
Well, what do you have? Apparently, Israel decided to take on Black Friday, Even though Israel doesn’t have Thanksgiving or Christmas, advertisers decided to cash in on the shopping frenzy of December.
Advertisement that I got in my email – Black Friday is spelled in Hebrew בלאק פריידי, and pronounced “black friday.” They didn’t translate it, they transliterated it.
At first I laughed because there is simply no connection to the Friday after the fourth Thursday of November in a country that doesn’t have a Christmas shopping season. But then I was sad. Of all the Christmas traditions to borrow, why that one? When did Christmas become about greed?
Dr. Seuss, one of the great philosophers of our time, reminds us with How the Grinch Stole Christmas that Christmas cannot be bought in a store. It’s not about the STUFF. It’s about things that money doesn’t buy like:
Being with Loved Ones
Generosity of Spirit
Israel, in spite of the Black Friday blight, is a lot like Who-ville. The Grinch doesn’t need to come and take all the stuff that we don’t have – the ribbons, bows, presents, trees, roast beast, etc. What he can’t take away is lighting the candles together with friends and family. Singing songs of freedom. Telling and retelling the stories of our forefathers standing up for their beliefs (ok, also the miracle of the oil). I might even go so far as to say that Israel might have a little bit more Christmas spirit than other places that have replaced Christmas with greed.
Let your heart grow three sizes today and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, and Joyous Solstice!
The Grinch’s heart grows three sizes.
I’m a big fan of the Maccabeats, so here’s a list of their Chanukah songs in no particular order. Start a new a Capella Chanukah tradition!
Maccabeats Shine (original song)
StandFour (Maccabeats) 8 Nights
Maccabeats All About the Neis