tS4 The Great Chanukah Strike
Everything was topsy-turvy and
the whole community was seething
with excietment. The news was
sensational, and no one talked
about anything else. There was no
doubt about it. It wasn't just a
The Chanukah candles were
going on strike.
That was their unanimous
decision. Well — almost unanimous.
Because one voice refused to join
ranks with the others: the
Shammash candle. The oil and the
wicks and the tallow; the orange-
tinted candles and the multicolored
ones — all were firm. They would
not burn this Chanukah!
Here and there a few people
were stunned into sadness. They
knew they couldn't have a
Chanukah without lights. They even
thought of declaring a three-day fast
to mourn the terrible situation.
Another handful of people, those
who never bothered about
Chanukah at all, were, sad to say,
quite pleased. "So the candles are
on strike?" they snickered. "Fine.
We don't care. We'll be on strike
But most of the people were
just plain confused. It was a
Artwork by Ami Flatt of Oak Park. Daughter of Sam and Dorit Flatt.
The children were especially
mixed up. They always had thought
that Chanukah was their holiday. It
meant listening the story of Judah
frightening thing to plan a fast for
Maccabee and eating potato
three whole days. But then, on the
pancakes and playing Chanukah
other hand, to join the candles in a
dreidel — and everything. Hopping
strike? What would happen to the
up and down, the children kept
asking the grown-ups: "Why? Why?
holiness and fun of Chanukah?
Cancel out Chanukah? It would be
Why? WHY are the candles going
the first time such a thing had
on strike? There must be a reason.
happened in hundreds, no,
Please, tell us!"
thousands of years!
Reason! As if those silly
"It's an emergency!" cried
candles needed a reason. They
some hotheads. "Let's make electric seemed to have lost their heads.
Thought of themselves as glorious
suns, not simple little candles. Once
"Never!" thundered the others.
"It must be candles or oil or no
they used to act their parts in a
Chanukah at all!"
friendly, glowing way. When it was
L-6 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1989
time, they would flicker without a
fuss. Now their anger had flared
forth and they flaunted their pride
before the whole community. They
had even written an editorial and
placed it on the front pages of all
the newspapers. What nerve!
Anyway, here's what the editorial
"Kislev the 17th
"Little Chanukah candles of the
world, unite! In solemn assembly
we decree a strike. We hereby
inform everyone, big and small, fat
and tall, that they will have to do
without us this year.
"We admit that we feel sorry
for all the children everywhere. But
it's the only way for us. What's the
good of burning with all' our might if
hardly anyone cares? We try our
best to remind you of the heroic
struggle of our ancestors, the
glorious Maccabees. But does
everyone pay attention? Ha! Some
don't sing Ma-oz Tzur; some think
it's just a silly old custom, and
some don't even know it's
"Some light us only as an
ornament, never seeing our inner
flame, never realizing that we stand
for victory over tyranny. We're not
just tall6w and wick. We have a
soul. We stand for Jewish history!
"Well and therefore! The strike
which we have proclaimed and
decided upon unanimously —