How Hanukka in the US became infused with a renewable spirit?

Wooden hanukkiot were made right after World War II when the sources of metal had diminished.

December 7, 2017 15:43
PRESIDENT Reuven Rivlin (center) lights a hanukkia as he joins former US president Barack Obama and

PRESIDENT Reuven Rivlin (center) lights a hanukkia as he joins former US president Barack Obama and rst lady Michelle Obama for a Hanukka reception at the White House in 2015. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)


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The above advertisement, reprinted in American Judaism: A History by Prof. Jonathan Sarna, declared the new spirit of Hanukka among Jews in the United States. “This winter holiday [Hanukka], which commemorates the Maccabean victory and the rededication of the ancient Temple, seemed in danger of falling into ‘oblivion’ in post-Civil War America,” Sarna writes. “The holiday’s message of anti-assimilation and national renewal ran counter to Reform’s universalistic ethos, and its comparatively minor status in the Jewish calendar made it is an easy festival to neglect.”

What was behind this comeback of Hanukka? Sarna writes, “For those seeking to revitalize Judaism... Hanukka celebrations, complete with convivial pageants and extensive publicity, served to counteract the growing allure of Christmas.”


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