Hanukkah for the Hellenized: NY Times Columnist Celebrates Cultural Imperialism

December 18th, 2006 7:30 AM
"Put down the candles and step slowly away from the menorah." Reading her pay-per-view New York Times column of today, that's what I felt like shouting at Jennifer Michael Hecht. Hecht manages to turn the Festival of Light into a celebration of the rejection of traditional Judaism - and an odd bow in the direction of colonialism and cultural imperialism.

Hanukkah celebrates "a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion." Syrian-Greeks had colonialized Israel, overturned the Temple, and turned Jews away from their religion. A small band of faithful Jews defeated the Greek army, drove them from the Israel, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.

According to Hecht, that was . . .a bad thing. In her view, "progressive, modern Jews" should actually consider the Syrian-Greeks the heroes of the story, and those who fought against them to restore traditional Judaism the villians.

For Hecht, Hellenic imperialism and colonialism was a good thing that brought "an economic, social and cultural boom." She speaks approvingly of the "progressive, urbane Jews" of the epoch who had renounced Jewish law, and condemns Judah Maccabee, the traditional hero of the story, for "ruthless soldiering" in his effort to restore the temple and rescue Judaism from the invaders.

Hecht declares that her family Hanukkah "will be a celebration of Hellenized Jewry," who "were good cosmopolitan Jews." She celebrates a Hellenized Jewish woman for her "multicultural gesture" in resisting a return to traditional Judaism.

My, my - a Times columnist celebrating cultural imperialism and colonialism? Yes - in the service of the greater liberal good of the rejection of traditional religious values.

Update: What could be less surprising than to learn from her bio that Hecht teaches at the far-left New School? You know, the place that gave Ward 'Little Eichmanns' Churchill a standing ovation last week for "blaming the 2001 World Trade Center attacks on America's support of Israel and its sanctions against Iraq in 1996."

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net