Happy Hanukkah! / by Kamie Chang Kahlo

Pottery Barn's fancy schmancy menorah

Today I am thoroughly stressed out searching for my beautiful silver menorah from Pottery Barn. And I think it is ironically wrapped in Christmas tissue paper nestled among my ornaments in some bin. Or is it? Is it ironic?

In the 1900's, millions of eastern European Jews came to the United States and most especially to New York's Lower East Side. As the Jews assimilation into America's Christmas holiday became more of a pressure, they realized how Hanukkah might just be the marketable holiday for their children. So, they cast aside their secular Christmas trees and lit their menorahs, the Zionist recruited Einstein as a keynote speaker in Madison Square Garden for a Hanukkah fund raising event and after WW II when American Jews moved to the suburbs Hanukkah finally took it's place as their No. 1 holiday.

This may sound like a culture being robbed of their religion via commercialism but I look at this way, America's melting pot is just that, American. Different cultures strive to live together as they fight to maintain their separate identities. In the end Jewishness comes forth. 3 in 4 light the menorah and one little Korean girl is happy to celebrate with them. Happy Hanukkah to my lovely Jerri. Here is the Prayer for Lighting she recited for me:

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner (shel) hanuka.

Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah light[s]."