Have a look at this Christian Science Monitor article (via Yahoo News) that details the Supreme Court's rejection of an appeal by a New York City family protesting the lack of a nativity scene in schools. The argument is that because the Jews and Muslims are represented by religious symbols (a hanukkiyah and a crescent, respectively) while the Christians are represented by a Christmas tree, New York City is inappropriately promoting Judaism and Islam over Christianity.
Let's ignore the argument's dubiousness for a moment and concentrate on this bit of hilarity from the family's lawyer's brief:
"Why is the menorah - a symbol of a miracle that is central to the Jewish faith - any more or less religious than a simple scene of the nativity, which is a historic event?" (emphasis mine)
The Hanukkah miracle central to the Jewish faith? Really? To whose Jewish faith, Adam Sandler's? It's hard for me to read this without imagining Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer falling out of their chairs laughing.
Non-Jews out there, listen up: Hanukkah is an exceedingly minor holiday. It celebrates a war that didn't even make it into the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible to you) and that led to one of the nastiest dynasties in Jewish history. Hanukkah is certainly behind Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and definitely behind the three pilgrimage festivals (Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot, so named because during the days of the Temple people went to Jerusalem for them). I'd also put it behind Purim, which celebrates events in the Book of Esther (actually in the Bible), and Simchat Torah, which celebrates the finishing and restarting of the annual Torah reading cycle. Oh, also the Ninth of Av, a fast day commemorating the destruction of the First Temple - a holiday that most American Reform Jews don't even observe.
What amuses me is this - if the New York City public schools were promoting Judaism, people would in theory already know this. Essentially, this lawyer managed to defeat his own argument.
Yes, Hanukkah is a lot of fun - it's right up there with Purim, Pesach, and Simchat Torah in that respect. But Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas (that distinction probably goes to Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and which most Jews don't even know about). It's barely even a religious holiday. We don't care that much about it. We just like seeing the hanukkiyot out there because we're sick of being bombarded with Christmas crap from Halloween onward. If we're really going to do this whole let's-learn-about-Judaism thing, what say we scrap the great big Hanukkah show and concentrate on some of the lesser-known but more important holidays?
Incidentally, could you imagine the hell a Jew would catch from a gentile boss if he/she asked off work for Shavuot (a two-day holiday where you're not supposed to work)? It's hard enough to get off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This annoys me.
Also, break out the brooms, kids.