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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chanuka Among the Hellenists

If you think Chanuka is about giving presents, eating oily food and spinning dreidels, Steven Plaut is going to give you a very different idea:
Of all the Jewish holidays, the one that I think best captures the contemporary Jewish zeitgeist, the one that is the most relevant to the current (and, if certain trends are not reversed, the last?) chapter in Jewish history, is Hannuka.

Hannuka is, of course, the story of Jewish national liberation. It is the story of the military victory of the few against the many, of the champions of Judaism against the pagan barbarians.

But it is more than this. It is the saga of the heroic struggle of Jewish survivalists (those one would today label "Zionists") against the assimilationists and self-hating Hellenists of the second century BCE.

Hannuka is less a story about the battle against the Greeks than it is about the battle against the predominant assimilationist paradigm at the time among the Jews. It is about the battle against the anti-survivalists, those who hated themselves for being Jews, those who seek to be "progressive", "modern", and "in", through rejecting, abasing, disgracing and degrading themselves and their people. The Hellenists who fought the Hasmoneans were struggling against Jewish survival. Sound familiar?
Read the whole thing.


At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think they were what would today be called Zionists. I think the were what today is called Haredim.


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