In a few days the celebrations for Hanukkah will be in full throttle, and all of a sudden the Black Friday makes totally sense. First it seemed like a flu that we contracted by being too close to our American broad – and richer – family; not on a government level, where they have absolutely no clue how to handle the reality that family you don’t choose. The American Jewry is family, although different, strange at times, and very high maintenance. But anyway, back to Black Friday.
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, so why should we celebrate it’s nemesis, the orgy of consumerism that drags millions of Americans to every physical and online store? Then I realized how close it comes to Hanukkah and it all made sense. Would have been better to understand this earlier, and scope every available store in half a day, to get all gifts done – until Purim, at least.
Well, next year. But one detail of this compulsive shopping day, on which I admit I visited only a supermarket, will remain: the stand right in the middle of the supermarket with a pyramid of metal colourful, very simple and silly cheap menorot (or Hanukkiot). People like me, who grow up abroad, are used to buy ritual objects only once or twice in a lifetime, and it’s a ritual to itself. A tallit, a Hanukkah, the candleholders for shabbat, are often bought in silver or made by an artist, and they are usually far from inexpensive. When you become an Israeli, you realize that a Hanukkah can be made of a simple bent line of coloured metal, and if it’s cute it’s ok, even if it costs 20 NIS at the local supermarket.
This is a freedom, a complete participation to the local culture, that puts rituals at a much more friendly and simple level. In the end, we say the same exact blessing on a Hanukkah bought for 20 or for 2,000 NIS. I may have skipped the Black Friday, but I got my share of Hanukkah light.
*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.