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‎25 Adar I 5784 | ‎05/03/2024

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It’s CHANUKAH, NOT “Chrismukkah”

It’s CHANUKAH, NOT “Chrismukkah”

A number of Jewish communities in Spain traditionally hold public celebrations of Chanukah, to which everyone is invited. If you would like to learn more about this holiday, participate in the festivities and maybe get to taste a typical Chanukah treat, come join us in one of these cities:


CEUTA: Lighting of street lights on the street of the Synagogue, and then the Chanukah menorah in the Plaza de los Reyes


BARCELONA: 17:30h. Turó Park, organized by Chabad Barcelona


BARCELONA: 18:00h. Plaça Sant Jaume, organized by the Barcelona city government and Chabad Barcelona

GIRONA: Plaça del VI, organized by the Patronat del Call de Girona and Jewish Community of Barcelona

MADRID: 19:00 h. Plaza de la Villa. Choral music, Klezmer, folk dancing, tea and sufganiot (Sephardic Chanukah sweet). Organized by the Madrid city government, Jewish Community of Madrid and Casa Sefarad-Israel.

MELILLA: Hotel Melilla Tryp Puerto, organized by the Jewish Community of Melilla.

OVIEDO: 18:00 h. Plaza del Fontán. Organized by the Kehila Bet Emunah de Asturias.

TORREMOLINOS: Plaza de la Nogalera, organized by the Jewish Community of Torremolinos.


Chanukah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews–and even many assimilated Jews–think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion and culture, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.

This year the first night of Chanukah falls on December 24, coinciding with Christmas Eve. This has caused many people to associate the two holidays even more than usual, coining the word “Chrismukkah” to refer to the merging of the two holidays either in interfaith households or all-Jewish households who celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday.

In fact, Chanukah is a paradigm of the relationship between acculturation and assimilation. The final victory of Chanukah was set in motion by the resistance of a relatively small group of traditional Jews to the growing encroachment of Hellenistic values.

When we celebrate the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks, we need to remember that the story of Chanukah is all about a clash of cultures. The Greeks weren’t out to kill the Jews. Their intent wasn’t genocide of a people, but rather the annihilation of their culture through assimilation.

This is why this holiday is so important. As one rabbi said, Chanukah carries an anti-assimilationist message that is as relevant today as it was 1,800 years ago.

Anne Roiphe is an American writer and journalist, author of more than a dozen volumes of fiction, non-fiction and drama. She is best known as a first-generation feminist, and author of the novel Up the Sandbox , which was made into a film starring Barbra Streisand in 1972. This short memoir, “Taking Down the Christmas Tree”, is from the anthology Celebrating the Jewish Holidays, edited by Steven J. Rubin and published by Brandeis University Press in 2003.

We hope that this will help everyone to reflect on the meaning of Chanukah, and on the ideas of assimilation, identity and diversity, and however you celebrate, we wish all our listeners a very happy holiday season.