Alice, the bush, as I promised, and aren't I terrific not to take the day off.
Once upon a time (my favorite story opener), when everyone
wanted to melt into the pot, when Hollywood stars had no ethnicity and being a
wasp was the ultimate goal, when Christmas meant color and lights and not so
much commercial frenzy, Jewish children wanted the same kind of celebration,
lights and color and trees with beautiful ornaments and presents.
Many Jews wanted to forget the war, forget the holocaust,
melt into the blond, blue eyed, Christian melting pot so they said, “The
Christmas tree is not a religious symbol. We can have a Christmas tree and we
will call it a Hanukkah bush.”
Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday celebrating the victory
of an army of religious Jews against their Greek rulers, 2200 years ago, who
wanted them to adopt Greek culture.
After three years of fighting, in
the year 3597, or about 165 B.C.E., the Maccabees victoriously reclaimed the
temple on Jerusalem's Mount Moriah. Next they prepared the temple for
rededication — in Hebrew, Hanukkah means "dedication." In the temple
they found only enough purified oil to kindle the temple light for a single
day. But miraculously, the light continued to burn for eight days.
Because of its gift giving tradition and proximity to
Christmas, Hanukkah has become an important Jewish holiday in the US. As
awareness of the Holocaust grew, and people like Steven Spielberg and Mel
Brooks took pride in their Jewishness and didn’t become
WASPS, I think we have become more conscious of our Jewish culture and less
likely to have Hanukkah bushes with their mixed messages.You can find more information about the Hanukkah bush at