Merry Chanukah

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Today, in a country where the martyred war dead are memorialized with barbecues and Martin Luther King’s birthday is remembered with Caribbean vacations, Chanukah truly deserves to be called the greatest American holiday. It is democratic, inclusive, and multicultural, and it celebrates liberation; it rose from modest beginnings; it is at once commercial, religious, and political; it merges immigrant and homegrown influences; it is a recent innovation that goes back thousands of years; it is frivolous yet meaningful and synthetic yet real; it is run for children with an adult agenda; it requires spending lots of money; and with the endless disputes it engenders over chanukiyahs in schools and public places, Chanukah ties in with the most quintessentially American custom of all: lawsuits. The Cinderella holiday promises to endure as long as Jewish six-year-olds are assaulted by a two-month marketing blitz every year, and as long as Israel is surrounded by enemies sworn to destroy it. In other words, there is little doubt that American Jews will continue to celebrate Chanukah with the greatest degree of enthusiasm forever.