Hanukkah comes early this year, in the way that Jewish holidays seem always to be early, or late, but never on time because it’s not at all clear what that means. In America, we live by two calendars. They rarely match, but they do instruct.
When Hanukkah is late — that is, close to Christmas — it is engulfed by the merry mania of that period. Forced to distinguish itself from the ongoing commercial explosion, Hanukkah inevitably is sucked into the contemporary fiction that assigns every American a stake in the holiday season when, in fact, all we Jews are waiting for are the after-Christmas sales.
But when Hanukkah is early — that is, close to Thanksgiving — it has the space to stand on its own. Coming so soon after the national ritual of giving thanks, Hanukkah allows us to claim our own gratitude, for light and freedom, for simple pleasures, for hot oil and warm doughnuts, for miracles if that’s what you believe.
To all our readers: a freylekhn khanike, Hanukkah sameach.