The Hanukkah Bush and Jewish Traditions

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Modern Jewish families have included Hanukkah bush in their holiday decorations. A Hanukkah bush is basically a tree adorned and displayed in some Jewish homes during Hanukkah.  Often identified as a variation of the Christmas tree, the significance of displaying the Hanukkah bush has often been the subject of debates.

Displaying Hanukkah bushes are generally discouraged by some Jewish rabbis although most Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative religious leaders have no objections to the use of this provided that the tree is not decorated with Christmas symbols. In “The Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How of Being Jewish,” Rabbi Ron Isaacs states “Today it is clear to me that the tree has become a secular symbol of the American commercial Christmas holiday, and not of the birth of Jesus. So whether or not to have one depends on the character and judgment of each individual family. There are certainly Jewish families that feel that they can have a tree in the house without subscribing to the Christian element of the holiday.”

Most Jewish families who observe the Hanukkah bush tradition are those from Canada and the United States especially those with interfaith families. Although the Hanukkah bush does not follow the Christmas theme, many people argue that following some secular Christmas traditions to celebrate Hanukkah is an indirect way of persecuting the Jewish religion. Anita Diamant, in her book “Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism,” writes, “When (a Jew) looks at Christmas tree, he or she may be seeing two thousand years of virulent persecution by Christians against Jews.”

Hanukkah decorations give more excitement to the celebration of the holiday. Different people have different opinions about the inclusion of Hanukkah bushes as decoration. The decision of putting up a Hanukkah bush is totally up to you. In the end, what is important is that you understand the significance of celebrating Hanukkah and its impact to your values and spirituality as a Jew.

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Posted by on Thursday, November 11th, 2010. Filed under Jewish How To. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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