Couldnt God bestow a tidy miracle

It’s time to dig out those boxes of motley unused candles, that leftover chocolate gelt (white, but still edible) and that baggie full of dreidels.

It’s time to gouge the hardened wax out of the menorah.

It’s time to say the Shehechiyanu and make room in your arteries for the deep-down oily goodness of Mama’s latkes.

It’s time to celebrate Chanukah.

While it remains important to recall the lessons of the Chanukah story (the triumph over idolatry and myriad oppressors), most of us celebrate the holiday as a time to be with family and friends. And to pig out a little, as traif as that may sound.

December dilemma? What dilemma? Chanukah affords every Jewish family plenty of holiday delights. Special Chanukah foods, songs, games and rituals abound. The beauties of the season — our season — take a backseat to no one else’s holiday.

So what if Chanukah traditionally had been a relatively minor Jewish festival before the invention of mass marketing? So what if the emphasis on Chanukah presents mimics the Christmas gift-giving frenzy?

The spirit of Jewish community overrides such petty objections.

And if American consumer culture has so magnified the importance of Chanukah on the Jewish calendar, we might as well simultaneously magnify those lessons referred to above.

With Israel still threatened from within and without, with anti-Semitism a seemingly never-ending pestilence, it’s good for us to focus once a year on the miracle of Jewish survival.

Despite those threats, look around: Jewish institutions, Jewish education, Jewish philanthropy and Jewish integration into all levels of society remain strong. The haters will continue to hate. More than one latter-day Antiochus will try to squash us, but plenty of latter-day Maccabees will fight back.

And as for the miraculous oil-burning lamp that stretched a one-day supply into eight days, this year how about, maybe just this once, we refrain from chalking it up to a fairy tale?

How about, just this once, we presume it to be true: that God every once in a while bestows a tidy miracle upon us, one that we might draw strength from year after year, century after century? After all, we weren’t there. It all might have gone down just as the story tells us.

It’s not infantile to believe in the miracle of Jewish survival. It’s actually good for your health.

The word “Chanukah” means dedication. On this holiday, let us as a community dedicate ourselves to honoring that miracle by working for peace, justice and Jewish values in the year to come.

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