5 Common Misconceptions About Modern-Day Hanukkah

5 Common Misconceptions About Modern-Day Hanukkah

Not all Hanukkah traditions are practiced by nonreligious Jewish people.

As an ethnically Jewish person, I commonly am asked about Jewish Holidays like Hanukkah, for example. I may be ETHNICALLY Jewish, but I am currently unsure of my beliefs. Knowing this, growing up, my parents took my sister and me to Sunday Hebrew school right near our house. There, we were given the choice to learn about the culture we were born into and decide for ourselves whether we want to follow it. We were taught about the holidays and certain prayers. I even remember making a photo album where we teach people how to celebrate other Jewish Holidays.

Here are some common misconceptions about modern-day Hanukkah:

1. You get 8 days of presents.

As a nonreligious Jewish person, whenever I see a family member during this 8-day holiday, we get a present that day. We do NOT get 8 days of presents, we never have.

2. You get money every day.

You get “gelt” (money) possibly one or some of the days, but NOT ALL.

3. You light the candles every day.

Ideally, yes. But nonreligious people sometimes skip days.

4. You recite prayers each day of the holiday.

Again, ideally, yes. Not in nontraditional families.

5. You play with dreidels.

Maybe when you are a kid or have kids, but not typically when you get older.

Hanukkah is a holiday where we celebrate the Jews’ escape from the power of a higher culture, the Maccabees. They made light last for eight days with a little oil, which is why traditionally we eat oily food such as potato pancakes (latkes) and we (are supposed to) light the menorah every day for 8 days. Most Jewish holidays tend to celebrate the Jews’ escape from harsh rule. They were oppressed over the years, although Christianity originated from Judaism. It is an older culture and people who are nontraditional Jews have their own way of celebrating; it is not wrong just because it doesn’t follow “every rule.” There is no need to offend some people who are religiously immersed in the Jewish holidays and traditions. The misconceptions though, have to be put out there so people understand the difference when someone says they are not religious.

Religion is a touchy topic for many people. We always go through situations where we end up questioning our faith. But the issue is, nothing is consistent, especially growing up, about your beliefs. Ideally, you would want your children and even yourself to believe in something out there, outside of this world. It would be great to entrust your entire life to a religion, but some people, like me, can’t just submit to something they don’t know a lot about. I’m happy that my parents never forced religion on my sister and me.

However, it is important to have faith in something, even if you don’t have faith in religion. To keep you going, you must believe in a future for yourself and have goals. Believe that you will achieve all of your dreams. You have to believe sometimes that things happen for a reason. But let your holiday be just that- a holy day. Sometimes getting together for any reason with your family brings you closer to who you are on the inside. Bonding with family is an important part of your faith- having unity. It is important to have faith, and faith that brings you closer to someone else is a faith that cannot be pushed to the side.

Cover Image Credit: Robert Zunikoff / Unsplash

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What Pope Francis Taught Me About Compassion And Love

Compassion and love are given at no cost; be that person with an open heart and mind.
Sue Do
Sue Do

A few days ago, a video on Facebook surfaced online. It is the video that captured the compassionate ability of human beings, and in this case, that human being is the pope. Pope Francis was part of the Q &A session with the kids in a poor parish in the outskirts of Rome. Many children asked him questions about the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

At one point, a young boy, about 6-7 years old named Emanuele stepped up to the podium. He proceeded to ask the pope his question but was afraid and hesitant. The pope’s assistant encouraged him, and after several attempts, the pope said, “Come, come, come, Emanuele, come tell me in my ear” in Italian.

Emanuele finally had the courage to ask his question and whispered in the pope’s ear about whether his dead father, who was an atheist was able to go to heaven despite not being baptized and believing in God. This deceased man, although a non-believer had his four children baptized.

By his sound judgment, Pope Francis consoled Emanuele of his grief and told him that. “God’s heart is like a loving father” who never abandons his children. The video of the encounter can be found here. When I watched that video, my eyes started bawling. But most importantly, I learned that it takes courage to ask hard questions. I learned that it's important to be there for someone when he or she encounter a sad time in his or her life. I learned that an action, no matter what it is, can tell us a lot about the kind of people we come in contact with.

Through the example of the pope consoling a young boy who is grieving for his father, we can see the compassion in the pope that draws people towards him, especially children. Human compassion is what makes us unique because we are made for relationships. We are made to love. We are made to console each other during times of sadness.

We are human beings, and as human beings, it is our responsibility to make sure that not only our physical needs are being met but our emotional needs as well. The video of the boy’s encounter with the pope taught me more about myself as a human being, and that is to be-- more compassionate and willing to listen to the most vulnerable people of our human race. The pope’s loving actions is huge example that we should all learn from--regardless of religion or race.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube
Sue Do
Sue Do

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15 Signs You Don't Let God Control Your Life

Advice from one control-freak to another.

I am a control-freak. I admit it.

I like things to be done how I want and when I want.

I idolize people's opinions of me and allow them to drive my life.

I have a clear picture in my head of how I want my life to turn out, and there is no longer room for God's plan.

I try so hard to control every aspect of my life, from how I look to how people think of me, and this is a daily struggle for me.

This may be something you struggle with too, and here are 15 ways to recognize that you do.

1. When things don't work out the way you plan, you get angry.

2. You spend all your free time daydreaming about your future.

3. You prioritize what is written on your agenda over what you feel called to do.

4. You make up excuses for why certain commands of the Bible are not applicable to your life.

5. You only read the Bible or have a devotional so you can post a picture on social media.

6. When you pray, you only ask for things to go your way. You never ask for God's will to be done.

7. You spend more time choosing what to wear to church than you do preparing your heart for worship.

8. You make goals that center and revolve around success and fortune.

9. Your phone is the first and last thing that has your attention during the day.

10. You set an alarm in the morning with enough time to get ready for work/school, and not enough time to talk to God.

11. You chase after boys and rely on your own charm to find "the one," and you don't trust that God will lead you to him.

12. You try to earn God's grace through religious tasks, such as attending church or reading your Bible. You don't let allow His work on the cross to be enough for you.

13. You stress over upcoming tests and quizzes, instead of trusting in God's provision.

14. You are serving at summer camp to hang out with your friends, not to fall more in love with your Savior.

15. You have forgotten what a life surrendered to Christ looks like.

The best news ever is that God loves us despite our controlling nature.

His greatest wish is for us to lay down our lives and our plans.

He adores us, and He wants us to find rest in His grace.

His plans are better than ours, and He knows how to make us happier than we can ever imagine.

If control is something you struggle with, I encourage you to hand it over to Jesus and let Him blow you away with His love.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." — Romans 8:28
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." — Proverbs 19:21
"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
— Proverbs 16:9
Cover Image Credit: Avery Owens

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