Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of pain
Most people don’t think much about dreidels and their feelings. They’re the sort of people who say, “Ilana, dreidels don’t have feelings. They’re just inanimate pieces of wood, or sometimes plastic if your synagogue is low on funds.”
To those people, I say, keep your science to yourself. It’s that sort of anti-dreidel bigotry that got us into this mess in the first place.
You see, dreidels spend most of their lives in cupboards. People ignore them for months on end. They have no sunlight, no company, no basic human dignity.
“Ilana, dreidels don’t need human dignity,” you might say. “They aren’t human.”
To that, I must emphasize that the phrase “human dignity” is just an expression. You can replace it with a synonym if you must.
Dreidels are brought out of their cupboards for only eight days a year. And during those days, people take them and spin them. That’s right. They twist them around, forcing them into a dizzying haze of Hebrew letters.
And things aren’t much better for the menorahs. Sure, they sometimes get to sit out in shelves as decorations. But on Hanukkah, people stuff them with candles, which they light on fire. Then the menorahs end up covered in burning hot wax.
Even after the wax cools, menorahs are forced to endure the indignity of being coated in chipping gunk the color of rotting crayons. Have you ever tried to get wax out of a menorah? It’s near impossible. Sure, moving around a pen in there helps get some of it out, but never all. And using your fingernail is downright painful.
So you end up leaving some of it in and packing the menorah away for the year, only to be brought out, humiliated, in another 12 months.
“But Ilana,” you say. “What about the story of the oil burning for eight days? Don’t we need to commemorate that?”
Well, sure, you can commemorate it. Maybe instead of recreating the event with wax, you relive it. At the beginning of Hanukkah, send out a younger brother or whoever happens to be annoying you at the moment to find magical kosher oil. Continue on with the holiday. When you get to the eighth day and said younger brother still hasn’t returned, because let’s face it, he’ll never find the stuff, just tell yourself that you did your best and let the little hairbrush-stealing twerp continue his worldwide search. Jews are used to wandering, right?
And if he does return by some literal miracle, you can probably sell the stuff on Amazon for thousands. Win-win.
- Ilana Strauss
Flickr photo by Julie V.
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