Hanukkah is upon us yet again, and like most holidays in America, it means different things to different people. But as Professor Dianne Ashton of Rowan University writes in her new book Hanukkah in America, that has largely been precisely the point in a country where Jews represent a scant minority.
Considered a minor festival without biblical roots, Hanukkah has become inflated in modern America thanks to its proximity to Christmas and its relatively simple traditions that involve candles, dreidels and fried foods. Minor though it may be historically, Hanukkah is one of modern Judaism's most observed holidays.
Dianne Ashton holds a PhD from Temple University and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society.