Smart Chanukah - Eight Crazy Digital Nights


Chanukah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates a miracle. The holiday commemorates the rededication of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish uprising against their Greek and Syrian enemy.

 

Known as the Maccabean uprising, the holiday is celebrated for eight nights in honor of consecrated oil that illuminated a seven-branch candelabrum for eight days until other sacred oil could be obtained. The miracle is that the oil should have only lasted a day or two, but lasted for eight days.

 

So, we have an eight-day holiday which starts on the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, but that’s not all. Since the holiday generally falls somewhere in late November or in December, in many ways the original story has been overshadowed by the contemporary tradition of gift-giving.

 

Since we now live in a digital world where the word “smart” is used to describe cell phones, televisions, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and just about all things that try to pose as revolutionary, trendy or disruptive (in a good way if you believe the hype), Chanukah has been changed forever as many things have, including talking with your kids at restaurants.

 

The New World of Smart...

We used to go to the store to buy potatoes, oil, salt and pepper etc. to make the latkes (potato pancakes of sorts). Today, we text the order for supplies to Whole Foods and listen for the doorbell. Or just text an order for the final product and, you guessed it, listen for the doorbell.

 

We used to visit relatives on the holiday and share Chanukah treats, traditions and family customs related to the holiday. Today we Skype or FaceTime with our relatives, which is totally understandable if they live in another state – but what if they live next door?

 

We buy gifts for friends and family and a multitude of others, some times from a feeling of obligation. We stand in lines trying to get the best price or buy the most popular toy for that holiday season (Cabbage Patch dolls anyone?). We complain about the salesperson always looking down at a cell phone, and then we spend ten minutes holding back the line as we look for a coupon on the internet.

 

...Meets the Old World of Memories

We live in a new world with new challenges and new opportunities. The memories we make and those that bond us to one another may be different, but they are still memories. The Jewish people are a people of memories, of thought and reflection. Chanukah may not be the most important holiday in the Jewish Calendar, but it is still a holiday that many an octogenarian remembers with fondness.

 

Whether you light a menorah, or plug it in and put it on your window sill for all the world to see, or download the Chanukah menorah app. From the internet, we are still celebrating as a people – and that is worth remembering.

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06 Dec 2017


By Michael Berman
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