I love holidays, and especially ones that have a killer back-story. And I literally mean killer — nothing better than ancient blood and gore that in modern times is celebrated with costumes, candy, presents, hearts, and flowers. And while I enjoy a pagan festival or two (Halloween, Valentine’s Day), nothing really beats the Jewish holidays for equal parts tragedy and triumph.
As a kid I was very struck by how the Jewish people have faced annihilation hundreds, maybe thousands, of times over the centuries. It actually made me a little nervous, and I was happy to just skim the surface and skip to the part where David slayed Goliath, the Israelites hightailed it out of Egypt for the relative safety of 40 years wandering around the desert, and the Nazis were defeated.
But as an adult, it’s my job to pass the word along to the next generation, and so finding the deeper meaning in the well-worn tales has been really interesting. Lucky for me, I’ve had ample opportunity over the years to dissect the most kick ass Biblical tale of all, as I am…. the Chanukah Mommy.