So Chanukah, the festival of lights, started this past Friday night! Yay. Chanukah is one of my favorite holidays because it requires the least amount of thinking. Each night you light a candle, eat a potato pancake, receive a gift and go to bed. Somewhere in between you count your blessings and the miracles in your life. Overall, it’s a non-threatening eight nights.
This year I started off the holiday a little differently. Perhaps it’s because of my blog and new association with the Jewish world that I was invited to some of the more interesting holiday parties. Such as the one I attended Saturday night called Menorah Horah — a burlesque performance with Jewish women dancing with dreidels and menorahs. Sounds absolutely ridiculous, right? But it may have been one of the best educational experiences I’ve had about the holiday, and how else would one get a packed room of hipsters on a Saturday night for a Chanukah event?
For example, I learned the century the story of Chanukah is based on (Second Century BC), the type of oil which allowed the miracle of the candles to burn bright for 8 days (olive) and the Hebrew word for devotion (Chanukah!). I also learned that Google prefers the holiday spelled Hanukkah. My mistake.
Though I could never get myself to strip down to celebrate my Jewishness, I applaud the ladies up there who can. It was just one more eye-opener for me to see that while institutional Judaism is diminishing, Judaism is not. There are a ton of young people taking it upon themselves to spread Judaism far and wide (read my latest interview with Punk Torah’s Patrick A). And if it can reach to the burlesque stage in Brooklyn, New York, I actually have a good feeling for the rest of us Jewish folk that we’ll all be able to find our place in Judaism too.
One of the hardest things for me as I was growing in my Judaism was to feel as if I had to give up other parts of myself. I now happily have a Cosmopolitan magazine next to my Torah and feel 100 percent OK about that. There will be plenty more holidays to come for me to analyze myself and grow spiritually. But this Chanukah, I will stop and celebrate with the rest of them for making it to this point.
If you have an unusual story about how you celebrated your holidays, or want to talk about your struggle between celebrating who you are and who you think you should be, comment or write me! I want to hear it. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.