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Jews Are Pushing Back Against Bad Hanukkah Merch in Hilarious TikToks

A lit menorah.

It’s Christmas time, and you know what that means: horribly misguided attempts to shoehorn non-Christian holidays into Christmas celebrations! Hanukkah is a perennial favorite among non-Jews, and every year we’re treated to token dreidel songs at Christmas concerts, lonely menorahs (sometimes with the wrong number of arms) among oceans of Christmas trees, and bizarre Hanukkah merch.

Luckily, Jewish TikTok is here to document and push back against the absurdity.

Ali, a.k.a. @ThatJewishFeminist, has rounded up a bunch of weird Hanukkah-themed sweaters and signs, including one that says “Deck the halls with matzo balls,” and another that says “Happy Hanukkah ya filthy shmuck.” She didn’t stop there, though—Ali has designed a Christmas sweater with the same level of cultural sensitivity that goes into Hanukkah stuff. It says, “Oy vey! Merry Christmas” and shows a random assortment of clip art, including a turkey, a barn, and a fetus. There’s a giant cross in the background because, as we all know, everyone who celebrates Christmas in any form is super religious.

Ali is selling that sweater, along with a “Hanukkah tree” sweater, with 50% of proceeds going to the Carolina Abortion Fund.

@Dididestructo got in on the fun, too, touring the holiday section of a store to see what people think Hanukkah is.

@dididestructo

If I have to keep looking at these Chanukkah gnomes then you do too! Happy Chanukkah season everybody! #chanukkah #hanukkah #jewish #jewtok #hanukkah2022 #chanukah #hannukah #homegoods

♬ original sound – dididestructo

The products Dididestructo finds range from cute (a dachshund-shaped menorah!) to weird (another Hanukkah tree, plus a menorah with three Shammash candles), to the stuff that’s just blatantly Christmas decorations—except they’re blue, so someone tossed them in with the Hanukkah stuff.

Dididestructo also finds a Hanukkah-themed gnome, which isn’t just a lazy attempt to repurpose a Christmas decoration for Jews. It actually has antisemitic origins, as The Forward explains:

In the 13th and 14th centuries, European artists began to depict dwarfs wearing a pointed cap, a turning point in the appropriation of Jewish symbols. The pointed hat began to be used in representations of deceitful figures, both criminal and magical. [Dr. Naomi] Lubrich writes, “If the pointed hat was the dwarf’s most conspicuous Jewish appropriation, it was not the only one. Dwarf narratives also fell in line with discussions of Jewish character, Jewish cohesion, and Jewish customs.”

There are so many problems with bad Hanukkah merch. Take “deck the halls with matzo balls,” for example. Why is Hanukkah being described with a line from a Christmas song? Why does it reference matzo balls, when those are traditionally eaten on a completely different holiday? These kinds of products collapse all of Judaism and Jewish culture into an amorphous sludge, and define Jewishness against Christian culture. It’d be like showing up to a Protestant Christmas party wearing an ash cross on your forehead and bringing red-and-green dyed latkes. Yeah, the latkes might still taste good, depending on how long they’d been out of the pan, but you’d still look pretty foolish.

Also, here’s your annual reminder that Hanukkah isn’t even a major holiday! It’s great that we can buy a Hanukkah table runner at Ross or wherever, but some sensitivity around actual major Jewish holidays would be even better. Giving your Jewish employees the day off on Yom Kippur, for example, would be super nice.

Luckily, many of us Jews are masters of responding to shitty circumstances with humor, and I’m glad to see these TikTok stars continuing the tradition.

(featured image: cottonbro studio via Pexels.com)

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Julia Glassman (she/her) lives in Los Angeles, where she reads tarot and watches Marvel movies. You can check out more of her writing at linktr.ee/juliaglassman, or find her on Twitter at @juliaglassman.