Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chag Shalom

"Well, then, that is just blatant Hanukkah propaganda," My father fumed into the phone. 
"Sorry, Dad, but they had to find a different way to market Hanukkah in the US--I mean, a nationalist holiday about another country can be a bit of an awkward sell.. right?" 
"I'm very disappointed in this Hanukkah business," My father said. 

This came from a heated conversation that my father and I were having about a small argument that my sister and I were having. "Can't you just get along--it's Hanukkah, after all, and it's all about peace and love." I was determined to keep the argument--but in this case, my father was wrong. It's like saying Easter is about bloody death--that's really missing the point, it's a side note. Hanukkah is about victory and the ability of the Jews in Israel to keep their spiritual identity, if anything, it's about keeping the other out (which may, in the long run, create peace and stability... but maybe not.) Hanukkah is also about the miracle of light that occurred AFTER the miraculous victory--so G-d provided light. In the physical and spiritual sense, for the Jews to keep their inner spiritual light strong and for the continuation of Jewish identity. Hanukkah--unlike Yom Kippur or Passover--can be given universal flavors, but it is a Jewish-particular holiday. 

Then I started thinking, "What is the Jewish Holiday Where Peace Is Celebrated?" 
The month of Elul is the month of "love" but that's the romantic love, not the type between peoples. If anyone who's reading this (all 3 of you) know of the Jewish holiday for peace, let me know. And maybe, in these times, we need to create a Jewish holiday where we celebrate internal and external peace and pray for peace. It's hard, these days in Israel with rockets being lobbed into Israel every five minutes, to really "celebrate" peace. It's hard when there is the significant amount of economic and racial inequality floating around every land, and especially the Holy Land. But is it still worth creating a ritual to celebrate peace? Absolutely. 
What about creating a Christian Day for Peace and Muslim Day for Peace or a Hindu or Buddhist one? We already have a universal, UN Day for Peace. But, it's important that each religious community promote peace and have a peace day in order to emphasize their community's commitment to peace. A day for justice would be entirely different, because there is a difference. Justice helps to lead towards peace, but justice is not created by peace. 

The last six days of Passover, according to an essay I read recently, are forbidden for enjoyment--because these are the days that the Egyptians were plagued and eventually died, their animals died and probably their spirits died--and the Egyptians, despite all the problems that they created for the Jews, WERE G-d's creation, and when any creation is destroyed, it is a terrible thing. 

So now, I'm wondering, should I make a Seder for Peace day with my family and close friends, like on Tu B'Shvat (the day for trees) and Passover? What would I put on that plate?