Hanukkah in America
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
One December evening when I was five years old, my mother helped me dress for a special occasion. She chose my turquoise satin blouse and black felt skirt decorated with big turquoise cabbage roses. It was the fifties. Mom smiled as I traded my play clothes for the outfit she had laid out, but, curiously, she remained in the same blouse and slacks she had worn all day. ...
1. What Is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah has always had something of a protean character. It emerged in the ancient world in a conflict between Judeans and one of their conquerors (except for roughly eighty years between 142 and 63 B.C.E., foreign powers controlled Judea from 586 B.C.E. through 70 C.E.), as well as among Jews themselves. ...
2. Modern Maccabees
Sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century, Hanukkah began to evolve from an often neglected occasion in the Jewish calendar to one deemed particularly relevant for American Jews. Surprisingly, it did not begin with a new emphasis on actually celebrating the holiday but with new interest in the Maccabees themselves. ...
3. Children Light Up
Reforming rabbis portrayed themselves as Maccabees in order to marshal American Jews to their new approach to Judaism, but, despite that martial imagery, they also sought innovative ways for Jewish children to learn about and participate in Jewish practices that would fit the larger goals of the new movement. ...
4. Remade in America
In the forty-three short years between 1881 and 1924, the American Jewish world underwent a transformation. Nineteenth-century rabbis who touted Maccabean heroism and who, along with religious-school teachers, organized Hanukkah festivals for their youngsters, and the young men in Keyam Dishmaya ...
5. Homegrown Heroism
In the decades between 1924, when the U.S. Congress restricted immigration, and 1945, when the Allies defeated Nazism in World War II, American Jews began to tell Hanukkah’s story of Jewish victory and divine rescue in a different way than they had in the past. ...
6. Forging a Common Tradition
In the two decades after World War II, Jews, like other Americans, joined religious congregations in increasing numbers. As new congregations sprouted in postwar suburbs, rabbis’ messages reached more people and women’s organizations linked to congregations saw their numbers mushroom. ...
7. Hippies, Hasidim, and Havurot
The sixties’ political and social upheavals set the stage for different religious values and practices to emerge toward the century’s end. Critiques of American society that developed with the civil rights and anti–Vietnam War movements posed significant challenges to the country’s sense of a social, political, and legal status quo. ...
As the twenty-first century opened, American Jews once again found in Hanukkah’s story a way to apply the consoling language of faith while facing new threats to their existence. For more than a century and a half, Hanukkah’s account of dangerous foreigners, assimilating traitors, loyal martyrs, and faithful heroes ...
It is a great pleasure for me to publicly thank the many people and institutions who supported my research into Hanukkah’s growth in America. From the very beginning, when I first began talking about this idea, I was heartened by the warm encouragement I received from two exceptional scholars of American Jewry, Hasia R. Diner and Jonathan D. Sarna. ...
About the Author
Dianne Ashton is Professor of Religion Studies and former director of the American Studies program at Rowan University. She is the author of four previous books, including the first modern biography of the American Jewish education trailblazer Rebecca Gratz (1997) ...
Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2013
OCLC Number: 863242106
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hanukkah in America