Monday, December 19, 2022


 It's deeply ironic that Chanukah, which ostensibly celebrates the victory of Jewish fundamentalists,

  • Started as a Hellenistic-style military victory commemoration holiday.
  • Incorporated pagan solstice light-kindling which was meant to bring back the sun through sympathetic magic.
  • Has dreidel as one of its iconic celebratory activities, which was adopted whole from the popular Christmastime game T-totum (the story of the Jews playing dreidel while hiding from the Yevanim first shows up in writing in 1898!).
  • Adopted gift-giving from the American version of Christmas in the '50s.

And most frum people think that all these things are authentically pure Torah-True traditions.

That said, I think Chanukah can be interpreted as a celebration of Jewish culture. It has it's origins in the last gasp of Jewish national independence (until the mid-20th century). It's thoroughly syncretistic, which Jewish culture has always been. And today, it's one of the things that differentiates Jews from everyone else, a small bulwark against the Christian hegemony that so thoroughly pervades Western culture that people think there is something inherently, qualitatively different about this time of year.


  1. It's also fairly likely that the chashmonaim, who were a priestly family, were zadoki kohanim. Hence the later ambivalence of the chachamim to the story of Chanukah.

  2. What happened to the substack?

    1. Life. It turned out to be too time consuming.

  3. Lets not forget the Bais Hamikdash architectural plan was just like some other ancient near east temples. Menorah also has pagan parallels. One big lie I was taught was that Judaism is UNIQUE. Shocked to discover much of Torah and Judaism mimics the pagans. Rambam's apologetics fails - see altercockerjewishatheist blog. D. A.