JTA — 2015 may be the year of the anti-Hanukkah think piece.
“It has become a blue and white kaleidoscope of vague Jewishness, one that tacitly enables Christmas-style material excess,” writes Emma Green in the Atlantic.
“The Festival of Lights, pleasant as it is, is a minor celebration of a band of violent, nut-job religious fanatics that was elevated to prominence because of its time of year,” Sarah Seltzer writes in Flavorwire.
But while the “value” of Hanukkah is analyzed and dissected in the US, for many across the globe, the holiday is a lifeline to a shared Jewish heritage that is not particularly present in their countries’ everyday cultures.
Michael Freund, the founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, a nonprofit that works to reconnect ancient communities around the world with their Jewish heritage, described this in talking about the 1,000 or so strong Jewish community of Kaifeng, China.
“After centuries of assimilation, a growing number of Kaifeng’s Jews have begun seeking to return to their roots and embrace their Jewish identity,” Freund said in a press release. “The Chinese Jews take their inspiration from the Maccabees.”
Below are photos of Hanukkah celebrations from across the world — some from unexpected places.
San Salvador, El Salvador