This Hanukkah Version of a Gingerbread House Annoys Me Like Nothing Else

Like almost every other Jewish Holiday, Hanukkah is a celebration of the fact that non-Jews tried to destroy Jews, but they failed. Also: Let’s eat! At its core, Hanukkah is about a fight against total Jewish assimilation into the prevailing culture of the day.

So how do American Jews celebrate this festival that commemorates our victory over assimilation? Well, because the holiday happens to fall during the same time as the Christian holiday of Christmas, we’ve Christmas-ized it. We wrap presents and insist on menorahs being placed alongside Christmas trees, some of which even have Hanukkah ornaments and tree toppers in interfaith families. Most religious Jews scoff at these overt appropriations of Christmas in Jewish homes, and yet the Christmasization of Hanukkah has seeped even into Orthodox homes.

If you take a stroll down the kosher aisle in many supermarkets in the month of December, you might find a surprise from a famous institution in the Jewish culinary world: Manischewitz. For the past several years, it has marketed a do-it-yourself “Chanukah House Decorating Kit.” It’s basically a blue version of a gingerbread house. Don’t worry, at least it’s kosher.

I get that it’s easy this time of year for kids and adults alike to feel left out of all the Christmas hullabaloo. But to pretend that a blue house made out of gingerbread isn’t cultural appropriation at its finest is a farce. While the house might be kosher according to Jewish dietary laws, it is anything but when it comes to the spirit of the holiday, which, again, is a cautionary tale against assimilation.

For a quick refresher, here’s how the Chabad website tells the story of Hanukkah:

So, please, if you’re really dying to make something edible to celebrate the holiday, try some sufganiyot (donuts) or latkes. You can even try your hand at making a chocolate menorah or a dreidel crafted out of graham crackers. But for the love of Hanukkah: Leave the edible decoratable homes to the non-Jews!

Bethany Mandel writes on politics and culture, usually from a conservative perspective. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyShondark

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Tagged as:

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

This Hanukkah Version of a Gingerbread House Annoys Me Like Nothing Else

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close