Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2005-12-16

Chanukkah: Not the Only Jewish Holiday

It's December, so the signs say "Happy Holidays," and those Holidays, in stores, schools, libraries, etc., are the December holidays: Christmas, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice.

In libraries, diversity is celebrated, because we live in a diverse world. A neighborhood or town may not be diverse; but diversity is found within a state, within a country, within the world. So we make Christmas ornaments, have a Chanukkah craft, a Kwanzaa celebration, a Winter Solstice display. And that is good.

But sometimes, that diversity gets rolled up and put away until next December.

"Happy holidays" can be, and should be, year round. Chanukkah is not the only Jewish holiday. It's not even a major Jewish holiday; it's just become so well known because of its proximity to Christmas. Here are some holidays that can have some fun crafts, displays, and storytimes:

Tu b'Shvat, the "New Year of the Trees." Celebrate by planting a tree or eating fruit. Falls on Shevat 15, 5766, which in 2006 is February 13.

Purim: a fun holiday that celebrates proto-feminist icon Queen Esther. A chance to dress up and give gifts and food to others. 14 Adar 5766, which falls on March 14, 2006. Not appropriate for libraries, but interesting all the same is the fact that Purim is one of just two holidays on which Jews are instructed to drink to excess. The idea is to get so plastered that you become ad lo yada, or unable to tell the difference between Mordechai (the hero) and Haman (the villain).

Sukkot, the Festival of Booths: Make a flag or mobile. Like Chanukkah, Sukkot is an eight-day festival, beginning on Tishrei 15, 5767; in 2006, it starts on October 7. Sukkot, a harvest holiday, is also the holiday on which the Pilgrims modelled the first Thanksgiving.

Some helpful hints: the Jewish calendar is not the Gregorian calendar with Hebrew words. Always double check dates. It's not that the date "changes" year to year; the date remains consistent in the Jewish calendar. It just happens to fall on a different day in the Gregorian calendar because the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. And why so many spellings of Chanukkah? Actually, there is only one correct spelling: the Hebrew spelling. It's the English transliterations of Chanukkah, and other Hebrew words, that have many variations.

As with anything, do your research; be respectful.

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