I’m afraid Jewish Christmas envy has reached new heights.
To be sure, it’s been building over the last quarter century or so, starting with the introduction of Hanukkah bushes and reaching a crescendo (or so I thought) when Elf on a Shelf was immediately emulated by Mensch* on a Bench.
But now we’ve gone too far.
Perhaps it’s because, this year, the first night of Channukah actually falls on Christmas Eve. This is a huge problem for my people, because it means two traditions will clash. Do we light the menorah and eat potato pancakes, or do we partake in our usual Christmas Eve custom of going to the movies and bringing in Chinese food?
Most years, even though Christmas is shinier and brighter than Hanukah and has much better music, we at least have a few days all to ourselves, often sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we can spin our dreydls while everyone else is out shopping. But this year we have to go head-to-head, and, really, our yamulkes* are no match for Santa hats.
And so that great American conglomerate, Manischewitz, the world’s largest baker of matzo* and purveyor of a variety of foods that, according to its website, “you’d think came right from your Bubbe’s kitchen,” has created the saddest attempt at Christmas copying since my mother stuck fake bricks around our 12″ black and white TV set and tuned to the Yule Log on New York’s WPIX, Channel 11.
I give you…
The Chanukah House. (continued after photo)
Constructed from vanilla cookies rather than gingerbread, and festooned with all sorts of Jewish chazzerai* made out of sugar, this Manischewitz Chanukah House is sure to add to the depressingly drab blue and white decor that we Jews associate with one of the happiest times of year. It comes complete with pre-made cookie parts, an edible set-up board and detailed instructions, because everyone knows how bad Jews are at Do-It-Yourself projects.
Seriously, how awful is it that Manischewitz felt the need to create this thing? How far will we chosen ones go to clone Christmas?
Unfortunately, we cannot look through the nut-free, lactose-free, Kosher Parve* vanilla cookie windows of the Chanukah House (that’s why this house is one of the rare ones with the menorahs* outside the windows). If we could look in, we might see festive Hanuka decorations like Hannukkah wreaths and Second Temple Tinsel.
And wait! What’s that up on the roof of our cookie Channukkah Chottage? Who is that jolly fat man with the beard, trying to figure out how to get into the chimney topped with foreboding icing spikes that may be intended to bring to mind King David?
Why, it’s Rabbi Klaustein with his NPR tote bag full of chatkes* for all the good boys and girls. Sadly, all he has are dreydls and gelt, which are coins made out of chocolate. It’s tradition to give candy money to children over the holidays so as to reinforce the dual stereotypes of Jews loving money and being too cheap to give out real coins.
Across the street, the Rivington kids are opening their Pokemon Z-Ring Interactive Sets and Nerf N-Strike Elite Terrascout Remote Control Drone Blasters, but we’ve got tops to spin and money to eat. Yea!
See you soon.
P.S. All the spellings of Channukka that appear in this post are actual accepted spellings, as compiled on this website, and as previously listed in my post of last year, “Entry 510: Christmas is Okay.”
*Glossary for my beloved Gentile readers:
Babka–a nosh* that is a cake with cinnamon or chocolate filling. Kind of like a rugelach* on steroids.
Mensch–an upstanding citizen, the kind of guy you want your daughter to marry, although you’d prefer a doctor.
Yamulke–a skull cap that is impossible to keep on if you have no hair to clip it to.
Matzo–the very dry, crumbly crackers that are just perfect to take with you when traveling 40 years through mostly waterless terrain.
Parve–the Hebrew term (“Pareve” in Yiddish) that refers to foods that contain no meat or dairy ingredients. When a food item has the letter “U” in a circle, that’s what it means. And if you’re wondering why a “U” in a circle stands for “Parve” or “Kosher,” it doesn’t. It’s the symbol of the Orthodox Union (the circle is actually an “O”) a group that certifies things as being various degrees of Kosher.
Menorah–the candleholder into which a candle is added on each night of Xanuka until all eight are lit, or the house has burned down.
chatkes-the Yiddish word for doodads. A good definition would be “useless things you have to dust.”
nosh–a snack, a bite to eat or, in some Jewish households, an entire boiled chicken.