Hanukkah’s Celebration of Rootedness and Tradition—and Its Discontents

Hanukkah, notes Ari Lamm, seems to irk “everyone from the late Christopher Hitchens, who memorably derided it as a ‘celebration of tribal Jewish backwardness,’ to Sarah Prager, who took to the pages of the New York Times recently to explain that she won’t be teaching her kids about it.” (The latter seems to be something of a tradition, as that newspaper has published several critiques of the holiday over the past several years.) To Lamm, the Festival of Lights sticks in the craw of a certain breed of sophisticate because it is

about the rootedness of tradition against . . . cosmopolitanism. If you were a Jew at the time [of the Maccabean Revolt], you basically had two choices: you could love the beauty of your ancestral heritage and love it no matter what, or you could watch as the ruling class attempted to recreate the social order in its own universalist image—and hope that your acceptance by the powerful would somehow substitute for the loss of family, community, and tradition.

Hanukkah is a story about national and religious aspiration, about the beauty that comes from belonging somewhere in particular. And how the refusal to follow the empty pieties of the ruling class of the time kept the Jewish people together.

For it is precisely in understanding that we come from somewhere—that our past puts obligations upon us in the present—that we’ll help create an American future that is not just great, but good.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Hanukkah, New York Times, Tradition

A Catholic Reporter Attends Anti-Israel Protests and the Pro-Israel Rally

Mary Margaret Olohan has spent much of her career in journalism covering demonstrations of various kinds. Since October 7, she has attended numerous anti-Israel gatherings, an experience she discusses with Robert Nicholson and Dominique Hoffman. Olohan explains the ways protestors intimidate outsiders, the online instruction booklet for protests distributed by Students for Justice in Palestine, the systematic avoidance of any condemnation of Hamas, and much else. To this, she contrasts her experience at the joyous yet serious November 14 rally for Israel. Olohan also talks about how her own Christian faith has influenced her journalism. (Audio, 61 minutes.)

Read more at Deep Map

More about: American Jewry, Gaza War 2023, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict