Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Chanukah is not Christmas.

I realize that, on the surface, that distinction should seem rather self-evident (what with the whole Jewish/Christian being entire different religions thing).

But sadly, the difference has not been honored on television.

My Jewish heritage is wildly misrepresented at holiday time, lumped together with Christmas. According to television, Chanukah and Christmas might periodically manifest different external trappings - you say, "jelly donuts," I say "belly full of jelly," - but deep down, behind the screen, they're exactly the same, which means a one-size Holiday Special fits all!

This misguided sentiment was flat out articulated in an episode of the early 1990s sitcom, Love & War, where WASPy Wally assured her Jewish boyfriend, Jack, that religion was no obstacle to their relationship since, "Chanukah and Christmas aren't all that different. They both celebrate Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men... and Women!"

Actually, Christmas celebrates Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men (she threw in that part about the women).

Chanukah celebrates a hard-won victory over an occupying army.

And what did that occupying army do, exactly, that so pissed off the People of Israel that they were willing to hole up in the hills and launch repeated, arguably suicidal raids against a foe with more men and superior weapons?  Turns out that Syrian Greek King Antiochous had passed an edict ordering Jews to give up their trappings, traditions and texts, and to become like everyone else around them.

Chanukah celebrates a triumph over forced assimilation.  (And as for those Jews who wanted to assimilate... let's just say the zealots known as the Maccabees weren't too fond of them, either.)

But, somehow, that part of our important story doesn't come up much on TV...

Read all about it, here, with examples from soapy shows like Friends, Brothers & Sisters, The OC and more! (Plus, you will never, ever believe which show actually got it right!)

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