More than just a Jewish Christmas, Hanukkah is about celebrating who I am

The holiday began in the 2nd century BCE. It represents the a revolution and how powerful a group of oppressed people can be.

Some might say Hanukkah is just Jewish Christmas. Indeed, it shares a lot of similarities with Christmas, like family and friends getting together, sharing food and giving gifts.

But it’s not. Hanukkah represents the ignition of a revolution and how powerful a group of oppressed people can be. Hanukkah is special to me because I get to celebrate who I am. My ancestors fought for me, and I will keep fighting for them.

Hanukkah began in the 2nd century BCE. It started because there was only one small cruse of pure oil, enough to light the menorah in the Temple of Jewish slaves for one day, but it lasted eight days. This miracle is attributed to God and the faith that the Jews had in our God, and this gave them the power to rise up against the Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.

This year, Hanukkah starts on Dec. 18 and ends on Dec. 26.

My entire family can never get together for Hanukah, so my family celebrates it on New Year’s Eve or one of the days around that. My cousins and I pick a menorah from my Grandma’s collection, and we light the candles at the same time. Whoever’s menorah stays lit the longest wins a prize, and the prize is different every year. During the “candle contest,” my Grandma gives each cousin $100 to donate to a charity of our choice. I feel this tradition of ours makes the holiday so much more special.

Even though Judaism has been around longer, Christianity has a cultural influence, and most people don’t even know that Jesus was Jewish. The church in Rome began celebrating Christmas on December 25 in the 4th century during the reign of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, possibly to weaken pagan traditions.

When Christmas started getting popular with the media around the 1920s and 1930s, Hanukkah was rarely mentioned then. In the 1940s, the press never mentioned Hanukkah and Jewish holidays because of World War II and the Holocaust. Because of that, Christmas took over the media for the November and December months.

To this day, I have yet to see one Hanukkah commercial. Just a simple advertisement would be excellent.

Movies and TV shows don’t have proper Jewish representation, either, unless it’s a mockery of our religion.

But my grievances don’t stop at just the lack of representation in the media. It’s the lack of respect for our religion too.

While Christians wear their cross around their neck wherever they want with no consequences, my mom has told me to take off my mezuzah necklace at the airport or public places, so I won’t get killed. This double standard is unacceptable.

I’m terrified of getting attacked on the street because I believe differently than others. I have seen too many stories in the media about someone getting hurt or dying because they live another way than another person. The Torah and the Bible’s story were written over 1,000 years ago. It’s something people of different religions can never agree on.

Ye, previously known as Kanye West, proves as an example of how anti-semitism has become normalized in the media. His comments about liking Hitler and his continuous hate comments towards Jewish people make living life as a Jewish person even harder. He has too much influence on people to be saying these things. People are actually listening to him and committing hate crimes against Jewish people. They hang banners over freeway over-passes saying, “Honk if you know Kanye was right about the Jews” That sign was just hung over the 405 freeway in LA, in October. Anti-semitism is still very much alive and is in our own city. A city that is considered to be one of the most accepting cities in the U.S.

Recently, Hanukkah has taken a more significant role in the media and has been more publicized. While I’m thankful for it, it’s not enough.