The Commercialization of Chanukah (Dreidel washing machine, anyone?)

Nah, this post isn't actually a rant about how commercialized Chanukah has become. In fact, I love Chanukah in Israel-- everyone gets together with family members, but gift-giving isn't the norm (although parents tend to give gelt money to their kids). Because Chanukah celebrates the burning of oil in a lamp for eight days, we eat all kinds of food fried in oil... mainly jelly donuts, or sufganiot.  Oh, and we don't light a "menorah"-- a "menorah" is what we keep on our bedside tables so that we can read books at night. (Menorah just means "lamp" in Hebrew.) The actual Hebrew word for menorah is "chanukiah"-- just so we're clear.

In other words, Chanukah in Israel is just what it should be: a celebration of light, oil, and family. (And the triumph of Judaism over assimilation. Nah, mostly just light, oil, and family.) Just as the four sons from the Hagaddah showed up in Passover advertising, so do ads around this time of year reference Chanukah.

An oleh named Jacob Richman does an amazing job of encouraging aliyah and gathering resources to help olim. For Chanukah, he collected a number of Israeli chanukah ads. Here are a few of my favorites:

Translation: "No matter how to turn it, this is the number one tuna in the world."

Translation: "The Mall of the Negev invites you to celebrate the holiday exactly like the Maccabis." (I'm honestly not sure what that means, but that's a wonderful picture of a sufganiah. Mmmmm.)

Washing machines and ovens in the shape of dreidels. 'Nuff said.

Ok, the thing I like about the one above is the punning. Up top, it says "A great miracle is happening here," which is a pun on what our dreidels say in Israel: "A great miracle happened here." (In the US, dreidels say "a great miracle happened there."  Ha. :)  The second line essentially says "Amazing sales for Chanukah at the Mashbir for the consumer" However, instead of "amazing," it actually uses the word "madlikim," which literally means "turn on" or "light up" and is slang for hot, super, great, cool. Get it? Get it? The Chanukah sale lights you up. 

Here's a clearer example of the same pun:

Translation: "Happy Chanukah at Auto Depot. An Amazing (madlikah) Present for those who buy more than 399 shekels..." I'll admit that sales are often referred to as "madlik" all year round, but I prefer to see this word choice as a pun at Chanukah.

Jacob Richman uploaded many more and provided translations of all of them, so definitely check out the full collection here.

After years of lip-service to Chanukah in the US (hey FarmVille, just because you call it a "holiday tree" doesn't mean it's part of my holiday), it's refreshing to actually see Chanukah reflected everywhere around me, from the Chanukiot glowing in the windows to the displays of chocolate money, jelly donuts and candles in the corner supermarket.

Chanukah Sameach!

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