Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Chanuka: Israel's Winter Holiday Season

The alternative name for this post is
"Saba Sukkot is coming to town?"

(Click on the image for the Flash Movie)

One of the wonderful things about Israel is that come December, all the red, green and white tinsel of Christmas is for the most part, absent. Since I'm in California now for a week on business, I'm bombarded with Christmas culture everywhere; the trees in my hotel lobby, the street signs, the sales -- everything revolves around it. Most American Jewish schools match their vacations to the "seasonal" winter holiday, and its impossible to ignore this holiday unless you live in a ghetto with no TV, radio or newspapers, and you have no connection with the outside world.

Curiously, many charedi and religious kids in Israel recognize Santa Claus, but not as the Christian toy delivery person, but as "Saba Sukkot." Saba Sukkot adorns many sukka decoration packages of wonderful glittering decorations and blinking lights that are sold in Jerusalem's pre-sukkot markets of Geula and Mea Shearim. These kids have no clue that we're using Christmas lights and tree decorations for the sukka, and that's certainly no big deal.

While Christmas awareness in Israel is growing (we have in our yishuv a few non-Jewish Israeli families from Russia, who have trees in their homes), its still a pleasure not having the in-your-face Christmas season everywhere. I'm thrilled that my kids only know of one holiday season in the winter-time, and its full of Chanukiyot, Sufganiyot, and a message of renewal to Judaism.

Update: This one is also pretty good (from last year). Just click on the candles, and try to avoid clicking on the silly casino links.


Cosmic X said...

Every Sukkot I tell my children that I don't like the glittery decorations because they remind me of another religion's holiday.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago when he was in Gan Chova my son (now 24 with two kids of his own) was asked if he knew what a Christmas tree was.

He answered in the affirmative and explained "It's a tree that you decorate with Tu B'Shvat fruit."

We smiled and didn't "enlighten" him because with the passing of time he has been exposed to the outside world...

rockofgalilee said...

I think you're looking at it wrong.
Can you believe those goyim use our sukkas decorations for their trees.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rock: Hmmm...OK, so where does Sabba Sukkot come from?

We'll have to find some sources for him in the midrash rabba...that shouldn't be too hard.

Maybe he's in red and white to celebrate the first hechsher given to Coca-Cola?

Mr G: Hmmm...and Tu B'Av was when girls got kissed under the missletoe?

Batya said...

It's much worse now than it used to be.

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