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Friday, December 11, 2009

Chanukah Blues

Chanukah begins this night (Friday, December 11, 2009), with the first candle of the menorah being lit before sundown. I have a slight confession to make - being Roman Catholic, I'm prone to confessions - I wish Chanukah would become a holiday that everyone shared!

My first interest in Chanukah was purely surface level: I love the color scheme. Very shallow of me, I know, but the blues and whites of Chanukah, often with a touch of silver, are lovely to my eyes and much more appealing than red and green. (Would you ever wear red and green together in March or September? I think not.) When it came time to decorate the outside of my home for Christmas for the first time, I bought all blue lights. My Irish/Czech mother drove up and said, "It looks like Chanukah." I was secretly rather pleased.

From Jewish friends and colleagues through the years, I have learned more about the meaning of Chanukah, the history and significance underneath the pretty blue and white. I never bought into the glib, "Chanukah is the Jewish Christmas" story I heard from non-Jewish sources. Here's a "Chanukah in a nutshell" definition from the Chabad Web site, which seems like a very extensive resource if you are interested in Judaism:
"Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of Kislev 25 -- celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality."
The holiday brings an emphasis on family celebration, faith, and - hooray - yummy treats for sharing. Here's a link to the Chabad site for Chanukah if you'd like to learn more. Chabad and F.R.E.E. in neighboring Niles also has Chanukah information on its Web site: check it out.

You may be of a completely different faith tradition, an agnostic, even an atheist, but I imagine most of us would still like to see light conquer darkness in our world and an end to the focus on material possessions which doesn't seem to get us anywhere. We have library materials on Chanukah for both adults and children: click here for a listing from our catalog, and remember you can search and borrow from all the other libraries in our consortium, too.

I wish our Jewish patrons, library employees and community residents a warm and blessed Chanukah. I know we recently had a comment about PlainTalk seemingly being a blog with a "Christian" outlook. I am only able to blog from my own knowledge base and human experience, but it is certainly never with an intent to make anyone else feel excluded or less valued. One thing I love about working at DPPL is that I share my work days with coworkers of many different faiths - Jewish, Muslim, and probably others of which I am not even aware. Lunchroom conversations also indicate that other coworkers are very comfortable not believing in a God of their choice. I appreciate that diversity, which more adequately reflects the world at large and which allows us to be a truly public library that serves everyone in our community, not just some.

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