LOS ANGELES (JTA) — This Chanukah, the miracle may need to come from your wallet. What with eight nights of family gift giving, many recession-year budgets might have only enough cash for five or six. The miracle can still happen. Jewish thrift shopping can light your way. For eight days we are required to demonstrate the nes, the miracle, in our windows. This year, beginning Dec. 21, the year’s longest night, you can show the candles’ flames anew with old menorahs purchased for students, family and friends at thrift shops.
ATLANTA (JTA) — Notice anything unsettling about your kids’ Chanukah wish lists this year? A Maccabean je ne sais quoi that transcends the standard sticker shock? Might it be that the latest lot of hot holiday “toys” are not actually toys at all? You have the Disney Flix Video Camcorder ($79.99, Disney); the Barbie Digital Picture Frame with Remote Control ($99.99, Emerson Radio Corp.); and the Kid-Tough Portable DVD Player ($149.99, Fisher-Price). And, of course, some toys don’t even pretend to be toys, the crown jewels of high-tech Chanukah hauls: cell phones, iPods and laptop computers.
For any self-respecting cynic, it’s de rigueur to despise Christmas music — primarily for its relentlessness and the forced irony it creates in many, many otherwise joy-free environments (malls, car repair shops, pharmacies). Chanukah music has been saved from this fate by its obscurity, and as a result, the general public probably doesn’t realize just how limited and infantile the catalog really is.