Why Do Jews Give Gifts on Hanukkah?

Dec. 22 2014

The custom of parents giving their children coins on Hanukkah—known as Hanukkah gelt—is well-known today, but goes almost unmentioned in pre-20th-century sources. It seems that the practice evolved from an older custom of giving holiday charity, especially to rabbis and cantors. An even newer custom, writes David Golinkin, is giving presents instead of money:

[I]t was the Yiddish press that encouraged Jewish immigrants to buy Hanukkah “presents,” and the English word was quickly absorbed into Yiddish. By 1906, the [socialist Yiddish daily] Forverts advertised Hanukkah “presents” for sale and the religiously conservative Yiddishe Tageblatt urged Jewish parents to give gifts to their youngsters to increase their enthusiasm for the holiday. The Tageblatt‘s most faithful advertiser explained that Christmas and Hanukkah gifts go hand in hand. On the other hand, Forverts editor Abraham Cahan warned Jewish immigrants against buying too many gifts on the installment plan and the Tageblatt warned its readers “we do not want death from pleasure!” . . .

By the 1920s, the Yiddish press advertised Hanukkah “presents” including cars, waffle irons, Colgate products, ginger ale, Aunt Jemima pancake flour for latkes, and even stock shares!

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Read more at Schechter Institute

More about: Abraham Cahan, American Jewry, Hanukkah, Jewish holidays, Minhag

 

Hamas’s Tactics of Attrition and Extortion Are Paying Off

Feb. 21 2020

In January, the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Iran after promising the Egyptian government that he would not. Cairo responded by cutting exports of cooking gas and tires to the Gaza Strip. Facing a possible domestic crisis, the terrorist group recently resumed sending balloon-borne explosives into Israel, and allowed other jihadists to fire rockets. The move succeeded, despite retaliatory strikes by the IDF, writes Elior Levy:

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Read more at Ynet

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, Israeli Security