In this version, when do we eat?
In his anti-liberalism latke polemic (“Latkes and Liberalism,” letters, Jan 2), Sonny Taragin contends that “the story of Chanukah is neither complicated nor contradictory. It is simply the Maccabees fighting (and winning) the freedom to practice the rituals of Judaism.”
His is the Sunday school/children’s version of the Chanukah story: The Syrian
Greeks (Seleucid Empire) tried to compel the Jews to renounce the laws and
defiled the Temple. The Hasmonean family (Maccabees) kicked the Syrian Greeks out and rededicated the Temple.
The adult version (i.e., more recent scholarship) concludes otherwise: The struggle was largely a Jewish civil war. Urban Jews were adopting some Greek customs willingly. The Jewish high priest, Menelaus, pushed King Antiochus IV to forcibly Hellenize Jewish worship, leading to the rebellion. After the Hasmonean victory, their rule over Judea turned
corrupt and eventually led to subjugation by Rome.
And Irving Berlin wrote ‘White Christmas’
Regarding “Anything but Santa Claus Stamps” (Dec. 19): You open the article
with “Jingle Bell Rock” or “Frosty the Snowman” and complain about the Christmas-filled space. If you look at the lyrics of both of those songs, there is nothing about Christmas in either of them. Santa Claus is not a Christian character any more than Ronald
I grew up in New York City in the 1950s, and in grade school my mostly Jewish class with our Jewish teacher sang Christmas carols in December like everyone else. We also sang about how “the cow jumped over the moon” and took that equally seriously.
If we look for problems we will find them: “Your focus determines your reality”
(Qui-Gon, Jedi master and trainer of Obi-wan Kenobi). For some reason, Jewish
publications feel the need to complain about Christmas in December. But
pressing the issue creates unnecessary conflict, including within Jewish families. It’s probably a better idea to stress the positive aspects of Judaism rather than the negative aspects of American commercialism (and this does not mean exalting Chanukah).