I love the Hanukkah story. It's a classic Jewish tale of individuals staying true to their values, underdogs triumphing over oppressors and the power of miracles to sustain hope. It's the kind of story that makes me proud to be Jewish and so grateful that we can display our glowing menorah without fear or shame.
We will be celebrating Hanukkah once again this year, lighting candles, eating latkes, opening presents and spinning dreidels. We'll sing Hanukkah songs, and read books about counting eight nights. We'll talk about the holiday a lot, but I'm not going to tell my girls the story of Judah the Maccabee.
Like so many other Jewish stories that have withstood the test of time, this one is about anti-Semitism, oppression and murder. It's about people being forced to make horrible choices in the face of insurmountable odds.
My girls are young (just 2 and 4), and they're lucky to have lived a fairly peaceful life so far. I'm not sure they even know what it means to kill or be killed, and they certainly have no clue that they are part of a community that has been on the receiving end of hatred and violence for centuries. They'll learn about it all soon enough (hopefully from a history book rather than direct experience), and once they do, their perspective on the world will be changed forever. I'd like to delay that reality for as long as possible.
As American Jews, we're living in a safe space and a blessed time. My daughters are proud that we're "Hanukkah people," which they are learning about from their Catholic daycare provider, their Hebrew school teacher, their Bubbe and Zayde, and most importantly, their parents.
Teaching the stories and lessons of the Jewish people to my daughters is a big responsibility, and one that I take seriously -- even when that means not telling the story at all.
Laser beams creating the image of a large lit Hanukkah menorah are projected on the Hiriya landfill, a former waste disposal site, now called the Ariel Sharon Park, near Tel Aviv, Israel, on the second eve of Hanukkah, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011. The Jewish festival of light, an eight-day commemoration of the Jewish uprising in the second century B.C. against the Greek-Syrian kingdom, which had tried to put statues of Greek gods in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, started Tuesday.
The National Menorah is lit for the first night of Hanukkah on the National Mall Dec. 20, 2010 in Washington D.C. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight day Jewish holiday marking the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
A Jewish man lights candles on the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah in the Haredi neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem on Dec. 20, 2011.
Rabbi Rachmiel Liberman, left, and Mass. Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, right, light the center candle of an oversized menorah at the Statehouse, in Boston, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, during ceremonies to commemorate the beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
Members of the local Jewish community and their children celebrate and dance on the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, at Nyugati square in Budapest on Dec. 20, 2011.
A menorah is lit on Dec. 20, 2011 to mark the beginning of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah in Trafalgar Square in London.
Rabbi Michael Fienberg lights a Hanukkah candle at a service at Judson Memorial Church on National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on Dec. 21, 2011 in New York City. The annual interfaith service is organized by the homeless advocacy group Picture the Homeless, a grassroots organization founded and led by homeless people. According to Coalition for the Homeless, in New York City 41,200 homeless men, women, and children sleep each night in municipal homeless shelters.
The great Rabbin of France Gilles Bernheim (C) flanked by Israeli ambassador in France Yossi Gal, lights a menorah, a seven branched lampstand, during the celebration of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, on Dec. 20, 2011 at the Champs de Mars in Paris.
Rabbis Yehuda Teichtal (L) and Schmuel Segal pray as they erect a large nine-armed candleholder, a Hanukkiah, or Menorah, ahead of the start of the eight-day-long and annual Jewish Festival of Lights known as Hanukkah, in front of the Brandenburg Gate on December 20, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The festival marks the rebellion of Maccabee Jews against the Greeks in 165 B.C.E., which some believers say included a number of miracles pointing to divine providence.
U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive for a Hanukkah Reception Dec. 8, 2011 in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, D.C.
A large Hanukkah menorah stands Dec. 7, 2010 in New York City. Billed as the World's Largest Hanukkah Menorah, the steel frame stood on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street across from Central Park and was lit each evening during to mark the Jewish holiday.
Israeli Ambassador in Slovakia Alexander Ben-Zvi lights the first candle of a giant Menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum, during the first day of the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, in Bratislava on Dec. 1, 2010.
The National Menorah is lit for the first night of Hanukkah on the National Mall Dec. 1, 2010 in Washington, D.C. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight day Jewish holiday marking the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. (
A rabbi lights the candles of a seven-branched candelabrum, a menorah, on the Dam in Amsterdam on Dec. 7, 2010 during the seventh day of Hannukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.
Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal lights a menorah on the sixth day of Hanukkah at the Orthodox synagogue at the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Education Center on Dec. 6, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Congregation members met in a speical prayer service for the victims of the Carmel fire in Israel, which has killed at least 41 people.
Leader of the Jewish Chabad Lubavicsi community, Rabbi Baruch Oberlander (R) and Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi (L) light a candle of a giant Menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum, on the first day of the Jewish festival of lights, Hanukkah, at Nyugati square in Budapest on Dec. 1, 2010.
A man lights a candle marking the beginning of Hanukkah in a nightclub in Moscow on Dec. 13, 2009. Russia's Jewish community marks the rebellion of Maccabee Jews against the Greeks in 165 B.C., which some believers say included a number of miracles pointing to divine providence.
A Haredi Jewish man stands in front of a rack of candles celebrating the seventh night of the Jewish light festival of Hanukkah in a conservative district of Jerusalem on Dec. 7, 2010.
Father of slain Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg's wife, Shimon Rosenberg, lights a menorah in front of the landmark Gateway of India monument in observance of the Hanukkah holiday in Mumbai Dec. 25, 2008, a month after militants attacked several landmarks in the city, including a Jewish cultural centre. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were among those who died when heavily armed Islamist extremists stormed into the Nariman House complex in the Colaba Market area. The building, which housed the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch movement's Mumbai centre, served as an educational centre, synagogue and a hostel for Israeli tourists.
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