Ghosts Of Chanukah Past

How do Jewish VCs — or anyone who’s Jewish for that matter — get through the Christmas season when even those of us who celebrate Christmas may already be getting a little tired of the songs?

Continuing in the spirit of the season, here’s a piece from 2005 that was passed on by Foundry Group co-founder Brad Feld on the difference between Christmas and Chanukah (start by picking your spelling).

Feld didn’t write this, but it’s cute. Get it after the jump.

I get a little grumpy around Christmas.  I’ve always felt like I get short changed with Chanukah.  Alan sent me this hysterical overview that provides a little perspective.

1. Christmas is one day, same day every year, December 25. Jews also love December 25th. It’s another paid day off work. We go to the movies and out for Chinese food.  Chanukah is 8 days. It starts the evening of the 24th of Kislev, whenever that falls. No one is ever sure. Jews never know until a non-Jewish friend asks when Chanukah starts, forcing us to consult a calendar so we don’t look like idiots. We all have the same calendar, provided free with a donation from the World Jewish Congress, the kosher butcher or the local Sinai Memorial Chapel (especially in Florida) or other Jewish funeral home.

2. Christmas is a major holiday. Chanukah is a minor holiday with the same theme as most Jewish holidays. They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.

3. Christians get wonderful presents such as jewelry, perfume, stereos, etc.  Jews get practical presents such as underwear, socks or the collected works of the Rambam, which looks impressive on the bookshelf.

4. There is only one way to spell Christmas.  No one can decide how to spell Chanukah, Chanukkah, Chanukka, Channukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, etc.

5. Christmas is a time of great pressure for husbands and boyfriends. Their partners expect special gifts. Jewish men are relieved of that burden. No one expects a diamond ring on Chanukah.

6. Christmas brings enormous electric bills. Candles are used for Chanukah. Not only are we spared enormous electric bills, but we get to feel good about not contributing to the energy crisis.

7. Christmas carols are beautiful…Silent Night, Come All Ye Faithful etc. Chanukah songs are about dreidels made from clay or having a party and dancing the hora. Of course, we are secretly pleased that many of the beautiful carols were composed and written by our tribal brethren. And don’t Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond sing them beautifully?

8. A home preparing for Christmas smells wonderful. The sweet smell of cookies and cakes baking. Happy people are gathered around in festive moods. A home preparing for Chanukah smells of oil, potatoes and onions. The home, as always, is full of loud people all talking at once.

9. Christian women have fun baking Christmas cookies.  Jewish women burn their eyes and cut their hands grating potatoes and onions for latkes on Chanukah. Another reminder of our suffering through the ages.

10. Parents deliver presents to their children during Christmas. Jewish parents have no qualms about withholding a gift on any of the eight nights.

11. The players in the Christmas story have easy to pronounce names such as Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  The players in the Chanukah story are Antiochus, Judah Maccabee and Matta whatever. No one can spell it or pronounce it. On the plus side, we can tell our friends anything and they believe we are wonderfully versed in our history.

12. Many Christians believe in the virgin birth. Jews think, “Yossela, Bubela, snap out of it. Your woman is pregnant, you didn’t sleep with her, and now you want to blame G-d? Here’s the number of my shrink”.

13. In recent years, Christmas has become more and more commercialized. The same holds true for Chanukah, even though it is a minor holiday. It makes sense. How could we market a major holiday such as Yom Kippur? Forget about celebrating. Think observing. Come to synagogue, starve yourself for 27 hours, become one with your dehydrated soul, beat your chest, confess your sins, a guaranteed good time for you and your family. Tickets a mere $200 per person. Better stick with Chanukah!

1 Comment

  • Deborah – I am the Alan that Brad is referring to. I had almost forgot I sent that to him. I live down here in Boca Raton. Here is another cute one from Boca Land. Enjoy and Happy Hannukah!


    ‘Twas the night before Christmas
    and down here in Boca,
    I was sitting at Starbucks,
    drinking my mocha.

    I know we’re all Jewish,
    but was wondering still,
    if Santa would come here
    and give us a thrill.

    On my way home,
    no Christmas lights did I see,
    on the houses, the windows,
    not even the trees.

    What a strange feeling.
    Not a decoration in sight.
    Was it really December
    or a warm summer’s night?

    I drove past Toojay’s,
    there were lines out the door.
    People were waiting
    for kishka and more.

    The restaruants were busy,
    Christmas dinners not planned.
    Never, not here
    we’re in Boca Land .

    At home all was quiet.
    I left out Kosher wine,
    In case Santa came to Boca
    for the very first time.

    Snoozing came easy
    to me Christmas Eve.
    I wasn’t waiting for presents
    to be left under a tree.

    I could hope all I want.
    I could fuss and then see,
    if Santa would make time
    for little old me.

    Then all of a sudden
    he pulled up in his Jag,
    with a sack full of presents
    each sporting a tag.

    Oh Bloomies, oh Saks
    Oh Nieman’s and more.
    He knows where to shop,
    he frequents my stores!

    He looked for the lox,
    the bagels and deli.
    He came to Boca first
    to fill up his belly!

    “I have a long night ahead,
    I want you to know.
    From Boca I leave
    for New York and the snow.”

    He stayed for a while,
    he chatted and ate.
    Then he left in a flash
    before it got late.

    What a great night
    I thought with a sigh.
    That jolly old Santa
    is a really nice guy.

    As I cleared off the table
    I heard with delight
    “Shalom to you all,
    and OY, what a night!!`

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