Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

Nathan celebrates after breaking the school record for the 3,200 meter race. Used with permission from Nathan Szubin.
Student breaks school record in track race
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • April 21, 2024

When junior Nathan Szubin stepped up to the line of the 3,200 meter race in the Johns Hopkins Invitational Meet on April 19, he had a different...

Arditi Zarouk (second from left) celebrates the 50-year anniversary of Perach with her team at the residence of Israeli President Herzog. Used with permission from Arditi Zarouk.
Former students and staff readjust to Israel in the wake of war
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • April 19, 2024

The Israeli embassy and military send over emissaries every year, and many of these families choose to send their kids to CESJDS. When they go...

A day of matzo meals
A day of matzo meals
Sophie Schwartz, Opinion Editor • April 18, 2024

Many people dread Pesach time, when their beloved chametz (leaven) is replaced with dry, brittle matzo. However, if presented well, matzo does...

Junior Evan Klepper gets ready for his WIS opponent to serve
Lions tennis fall short to WIS
Isaiah Segal-Geetter, Reporter • April 18, 2024

“Twenty four on 3, Mashiach on 6,” junior and tennis captain Evan Klepper said to the varsity boys tennis team before their match against...

Eighth grade visits Capitol Hill
Eighth grade visits Capitol Hill
Jonah Mitre, Reporter • April 17, 2024

To put their learning from government class into perspective, eighth grade students visited Capitol Hill on April 10 for a field trip. Throughout...

At the college fair on April 7, Pitzer College representatives boasted about their Students Justice for Palestine (SJP) club to a Jewish student.
Opinion: Colleges need to support Zionist students
Stella Muzin, Editor-in-Chief • April 16, 2024

On April 7, I attended the Washington Area Independent Schools College Fair, which was co-sponsored by CESJDS along with other schools from the...

Make Hanukkah about the meaning, not the gifts

Aliza Bellas
In this day and age Hanukkah has become extremely materialistic and lost its true meaning

Historically, the holiday of Hanukkah memorializes the Jews’ victory led by the Maccabees against the Greeks and the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days and eight nights, which was supposed to last for one night.

Despite that, Hanukkah has become a possessive holiday in which buying presents is more important than the holiday itself.

In the past, Hanukkah has not been a particularly popular Jewish holiday because it is not included in the Jewish bible. This is because its history was based around a military victory at the same time asJews were facing a civil war. For this reason, among others, Rabbis in Jewish history have not typically emphasized celebrating this holiday. 

However, because of its proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah has become an increasingly popular holiday among American Jews, especially among those who are less observant of other Jewish holidays. Marked by a sense of family and light, Hanukkah becomes a favorite holiday for many, especially as it is an easy time of year to celebrate.

During this time of year, Jews often feel left out of the fun and warm holiday feeling. Hanukkah is used as a replica, to allow Jews to experience this same atmosphere. An example of this is the famed ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchange in which people are randomly assigned a person to give to. It has become popular among some in the Jewish community to do a similar thing called ‘Mystery Maccabee’ or ‘Harry Hanukkah’ which tries to play off of the original fun.

Similar to Christmas, it is a custom to give or receive gifts during the holiday. Some families, including my own, give children gifts while others hold gift exchanges between families and friends. Some even give gifts on all eight nights of Hanukkah. 

I recognize that gift giving is a way of engaging different people in the holiday and bringing them together. There is definitely a positive aspect of showing affection or appreciation through gifts, however, when it becomes the focus, it takes away from the general point of Hanukkah. 

However, Hanukkah has become materialistic, and its focus has shifted from the initial purpose of the holiday celebration to giving and exchanging gifts. I often hear my friends or siblings comparing the types of gifts they receive and how many. Additionally, in some cases I feel obligated and pressured to buy family members and friends gifts. As someone who struggles with gift giving, I find it a stressful time that takes away from other aspects of the holiday.

This year I am participating in at least three gift exchanges among friends. Not only do I feel stressed about it, but I also find that it doesn’t really connect to Hanukkah at all. I am simply buying gifts for others and exchanging them. No where in the process thinking about or immersing myself in the holiday.

More generally, Hanukkah is about celebrating miracles and light along with religious freedoms.

There is much to unpack in the holiday and much to celebrate. Spending time with family and friends, eating latkes and donuts and understanding its story are more meaningful ways to spend Hanukkah. 

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About the Contributor
Aliza Bellas
Aliza Bellas, Managing Editor, Copy
Aliza is ecstatic to continue her work on The Lion’s Tale as Managing Editor, Copy in the upcoming year. In her past year as Opinion Editor, Aliza found passion in writing timely articles, editing interesting stories, and designing spreads. Outside of the Pub Hub, Aliza dedicates her time to her role as Junior Class President, the Regional Vice President of Membership in BBYO’s D.C. Council, and her role as Editor-in-Chief of The Melting Pot. Aliza is eager to get started on developing the paper’s writing and ensuring that every web and print article is as polished as can be.  

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