Hanukkah has become the pinnacle of assimilation for American Jews. Dreidels and Menorahs hang in holiday displays alongside Christmas trees and wreaths. But the real history of Hanukkah is sometimes forgotten. The ancient war that Hanukkah celebrates was very much a civil war between religious and secular Jews. While cooking latkes, a former Orthodox Jew explains how this 2,000 year old struggle over assimilation has affected her life.
La Nona Kanta by Julie Subrin
Flory Jagoda grew up in a family of singers. Her childhood, in a mountain village outside of Sarajevo, was filled with songs sung in Ladino - the language passed down by Jews expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. After the horrors of World War II, she and her parents were the only survivors of the 42-member Altaras family. Since then, Jagoda, winner of a NEA National Heritage fellowship, has dedicated her professional life to composing, performing and teaching songs that preserve her memories of that lost life. Jagoda is perhaps best known for what has now become something of a Hanukkah standard, her original composition, "Ocho Kandelikas."
Chanukah with Byron by Terin Mayer
A student at Carleton College in Northfield finds herself working on campus during the winter break rather than heading home. Chanukah is a particularly important holiday to Emma - she enjoys her parent's traditions and rituals. But this year Emma can't be with her family; so instead she spends the festival of lights with Byron. He's a big personality on campus, the kind of guy who's friends with everyone, but that nobody really knows. This is the story of their dorm-lounge holiday, and how they got to know each other.