Thoughts about Chanukah
Kibbutz Hukuk, 5723
The festival of Chanukah has arrived. We received the Chanukah file which includes an abundance of material about the festival. I looked through the pages of the brochure and I found a ceremony for lighting 8 torches, ready to go!
The torch of the exodus from Egypt
The torch of Bar Kochba
The torch of the conquerors of Canaan
The torch for blessing G-d
The torch of the melting pot
The torch of the ghetto resistance
The torch of the Babylonian exiles
The torch of the Hasmoneans
And again I started to think: What is a festival and how should it be celebrated?
Every festival has its own background, history, experience, folklore and its special traditions.
The Festival of Chanukah is a festival of the war of the few against the many – the Festival of Heroism, the Festival of Freedom, independence and the Festival of Lights.
The festival is related to a certain historical period and is definitely defined. Why then, if so, should be combine important and great events within this festival?
The dynasty of heroism since then and to date throughout the entire history of the Hebrew people, its suffering and its wars and up to the War of Independence, could indeed serve as one subject, however why do we differentiate one festival from another?
We will leave the story of the exodus from Egypt just for Passover, the torch for the conquest of Canaan we will leave for Independence Day and the ghetto resistance we will discuss on Holocaust Day etc. It seems to me that this “porridge” reduces the values of the festival and its uniqueness, either we reduce the list of festivals with an ethical background into one festival, and there will be Chanukah, Passover and Independence Day, festivals of freedom and heroism, and a second list of festivals, the nature festivals – into one festival.
It seems to me that nevertheless the correct way is to celebrate a festival with a tradition that is suitable for it and us.
We will sing the festival songs, we will eat the festival dishes and we will tell the story of the festival.
We will light the torches to remember the miracle that occurred in the Temple, and we tell the stories of the heroic war of Matityahu and his sons. We will sing: Spinning top going round and round, Maoz Tzur etc.
We will make latkes and eat doughnuts.
We will light the large Chanukiah in the dining room which does not get refurbished every year and there are always kibbutz “pioneering” ideas. We will keep it in the culture storeroom when the wax from last year is still on it. We will keep all the decorations and the beautiful tradition of each and every festival.
Note: In the kindergarten there has been a Chanukiah for the past ten years at least.
That same play “The Chanukah Miracle” we, the parents, have performed for our children for the past 8 years at least and let’s continue until a hundred and twenty.....
And the tension of the festival will always remain, the excitement of its arrival specifically because of keeping this tradition.