Italian Word of the Week LUCI

italicsBy Daniela Gross

“Luci”, the word of the week, is strictly related to Hanukkah. Admittedly, Hanukkah is Hanukkah in Italy as all it is around the world. The only difference is that sometimes Italians transliterate this Hebrew word as “Chanukkah”, which it is not a big deal.

However, occasionally we prefer to use the Italian adaptation and we talk about the “Festa delle luci – Festival of Lights”. Clearly it is not a translation, because it doesn’t reflect in any way the Hebrew meaning, which is is in memory of the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabean revolt. More accurately, this phrase is related to the joy and happiness communicated by the candles that we light, night after night, for eight days.

In Italy this festive feeling is more of a private issue, rather than a public one. Sure, we light the candles at the synagogue, and there are parties in any Jewish Community. The kids play with dreidl (but we rather call them with the Hebrew term “sevivon”), and receive a lot of gifts. In some cities a big Hanukkiah is also lighted in public places.

Given the small number of the Italian Jews, however, Hanukkah is an event in some way confined to the interior of our Jewish world. You don’t find in stores books about Hanukkah, dreidls, or holiday cards. You don’t hear a lot about it on the radio or on television. You don’t spend hours going around to admire fancy Hanukkah menorahs displayed in people’s houses’ windows, as you can do in Israel. But Hanukkah is Hanukkah, in Italy as it is all around the world. The only thing that matters is to celebrate its lights with our dear ones.