Hanukkah’s meaning is contested. I was raised in the Jewish socialist secular tradition that claimed the Maccabees as the first leaders of the long struggle against imperial domination. In recent years, however, they’ve gotten branded as forerunners of the Taliban—authoritarian religious fanatics.
Meanwhile, in the US, Jewish families have been celebrating the holiday as a pallid alternative to Christmas-‘we’re so lucky because we can get 8 days of presents?” The holiday is so mixed up that we don’t even agree on its spelling. But this year, the social justice meaning of Chanuke is being revived.
The Jewish social justice organization ‘Bend the Arc’ is asking us to dedicate our menorah lighting to #blacklivesmatter and around the country various actions relating to social justice during the 8 days are being staged.
In that spirit, this week on the radio we’ll feature Chanukah songs that help restore social meaning to the observance, including those by none other than Woody Guthrie—and we’ll include some new releases by leading socially conscious artists that seem pertinent. And we’ll take note musically of the fact that it is the Palestinians right now who seem to be acting in the Maccabean spirit.
culture of protest thurs 12/18/14 6pm pst kcsb 91.9fm & www.kcsb.org