Hanukkah, Making Judaism “Cool”

Attending non Jewish school while I began discovering who I am was a struggle. Not being able to attend the “coolest” birthday parties because they were on Shabbat, not eating starbursts with everyone else due to gelatin, and not decorating a Christmas tree were constant struggles that made me question my religion at such a young age.

However, when Hanukkah rolled around each year, my religion was justified. Not only did I get EIGHT days of presents, but also a super inspiring story about my people.

When my mom or abba read me the story of Hanukkah each year, the superficiality of the holiday slipped away and I was in awe of the epic of the holiday.

I would wrinkle my nose in disgust at the thought of a pig touching the Holy of Holies. My eyes widened with fright during the battle scene, and I sighed with relief when the heroic Maccabees finally defeated the evil Greeks. And finally, I puzzled over the miracle of a little bit of oil lasting eight days. It was my religion’s own Disney movie.

Although six year old me loved sufganiyots and getting a new American Girl Doll, the story of Hanukkah was my favorite part of the holiday. It was one of the first memories I have of being proud to be a Jew. It showed me the strength of Judaism. I learned the sense of empowerment that comes with being Jewish and having such incredible historical narratives.

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About the Author
Originally from Washington, D.C., Penina Graubart is the New Media Associate for Times of Israel. She also attends IDC Herzliya, studying at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications
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