Monday, December 6, 2010

Jew gotta be kidding

We are in the thick of the season. And when I say season, of course I am referring to the Chanukkah season. As evidenced by this rather over-the-top decorating extravaganza spotted on Overland Ave.

Maybe it's the generational gap talking here, but when I was a kid, we had a simple menorrah and that sufficed. It stood in stark contrast to the lights, the trees, the wreaths, the ornate nativity scenes and the plastic Santas on the lawns of my mostly Roman Catholic neighborhood. And I was fine with that.

There was something dignified about treating a religious holiday with some understated reverence.

Years ago, before children, mortgages and ear hair, my wife and I tooled around Spain and Portugal. One of the most beautiful things we saw was a synagogue built in the 1500's. It was nothing more than a simple white room --sort of the Hebraic predecessor of the Apple Store -- delicately adorned with one simple row of deep ocean blue tile that rimmed the ceiling. It might have been the most incredible building on the entire Iberian Peninsula.

Not that my people are beyond hideous design and ostentation.

If you've ever been inside a Judaica store, you know from which I speak -- monstrous menorrahs, krass kiddish cups and flashy door mezzuzahs with motion detectors. I'm pretty sure it all violates the 11th Commandment brought down by Moses. "Thou shalt not fashion silver and gold into crap."

I'm just thankful that when my kids were smaller there weren't these elaborate displays for sale. Because I know my daughters would have talked me into the giant dreidel-spinning Hanukkah bear. And despite the running, swimming and various other aerobic activities, I know I still don't have the lung capacity to inflate one of those.

1 comment:

Leah said...

you forgot to mention the neighbor's completely bizarre channukah tree in their front window, complete with sprayed-on white snow and a rotating jewish star on top!