Radio Free New Hampshire: Bring an Old Friend To the Annual Chanukah Column

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Michael Davidow

By Michael Davidow, Radio Free New Hampshire

December! Freezing rain, the Boston Red Sox losing their shortstop to the San Diego Muckdogs, and time for my annual Chanukah column. It’s been a while, but I didn’t want to do this one alone, so I reached out to an old friend.

MOI-MEME: Hello Chloe! How’s tricks?

CHLOE SCHLAGOBERS: Hi Squirtle! Tricks are for kids, silly rabbit! I have been so busy lately. I just took a new job as assistant chief of the wokeness division of the New York Hours and Minutes Japanese Anime Section. Did you read our article the other day about Gudetama, the genderless egg creature that’s famous for being boring?  That little yellow blob that yawns and sleeps a lot?

MM: I did!

CS: Well believe it or not, in the first draft, the reporter called Gudetama “it.” “It sleeps a lot. It yawns a lot.” Can you believe that? I made sure we used the pronoun “they” instead! Gudetama deserves agency!

MM: Wow! For real? Do you get paid for that?

CS: Look it up! True story! I make enough to get by! Plus there’s my parents. 

MM: Right. Well, I guess that’s good. Anyway, what’s new for Chanukah? Any hot trends bubbling up from the Big Apple this year, that we country bumpkins should know about?

CS: I’m sorry. What is Hankercough?

MM: Chanukah!  Don’t you know? I thought you were Jewish.

CS: Why? Because I’m from Scarsdale, and I eat bagels, and I work for the Hours and Minutes? That’s pretty presumptuous of you, Squirtle. Maybe I just have good taste.

MM: Actually, it’s more because you had a bat mitzvah and your brother is a rabbi. Plus the bagels thing.

CS: Well, my mom is Jewish. And so is my father. But I myself am a progressive, so I really can’t be Jewish anymore.

MM: Why not?

CC: My friends would criticize me for that stuff in the West Bank. And they’re Democrats, so it can’t be anti-Semitism. Things are getting crazy, Squirtle.

MM. I know. I’ve heard about it. Do you ever try to put that particular situation into context, as a holdover from the politics of the late 1940’s, when millions of Germans were expelled from Eastern Europe, millions of Hindus and Muslims were shipped back and forth during the partition of India, and hundreds of thousands of Jews were torn from their homes throughout the Middle East? That’s actually how people used to deal with their problems. And given how the Second World War began, with Germany marching into the Sudetenland to allegedly rescue their own people, most of the world accepted that it made a certain sense. All those other groups settled into their new lands and made the best of it. The Arabs consciously chose to keep their people in camps instead because they figured Israel wouldn’t last. Bad decision. It lasted.

CC: That sounds like history, Squirtle. Which doesn’t matter to anyone.

MM: Well gosh. No wonder you don’t know about Chanukah, because Chanukah is all about history too.

CS: Really? I thought it was Hebrew, for Christmas!

MM: No, Chloe! Chanukah is how we remember that over two thousand years ago, the local elite in Jerusalem colluded with the heirs to Alexander to meld the Hebrew religion into their day’s dominant Greek culture. A group of rural protestors refused to go along, and they actually won a war of rebellion to keep their religion safe. Go zealots! Let’s hear it for cultural intolerance.  

CS: Jews!  Greeks!  Religion!  Squirtle, nobody is reading this anymore.

MM: Interestingly, the story of these Maccabee rebels entered the Christian Bible, while the Jewish version of the Bible does without. This war happened too late for our people to accept it as divine provenance, so we chose to leave it alone. Also, those supremely religious rebels turned out to be as feckless as the leaders they defeated. So our rabbis were never very fond of them. But we still remember the war they fought, and we still honor them accordingly.

CS (batting her eyes): Oh, Squirtle. You so smaht. You write this column that nobody reads. You know how to type, too. All those novels of yours. All that ink you waste.

MM: Stop that!

CS: Hah! I was just kidding you. I love this holiday! Every year I celebrate by having my parents buy me things. That and I eat donuts. Even progressives like donuts.

MM: Now you’re talking! Happy Chanukah, Chloe!

CS: And Merry Christmas to us all!

Davidow writes Radio Free New Hampshire for He is also the author of Gate City, Split Thirty, and The Rocketdyne Commission, three novels about politics and advertising which, taken together, form The Henry Bell Project,  The Book of Order, and The Hunter of Talyashevka . They are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Davidow’s Chanukah Land can be found here.

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