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December 03, 1993 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-12-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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kins — with Chanukah motifs
and traditional Chanukah col-
ors. "It's becoming more accept-
able and more stylish to use
disposable partyware," Mr.
Zucker said. "Companies are us-
ing more graphics and giving
the items a really exciting look."
Cards are a huge part of the
Chanukah trade and a staple
for retailers. "Cards always hold
their own," said Mr. Gimbelman
of Designer Products, who ex-
pects to sell about 150,000
Chanukah cards to stores na-
tionwide. Each year, companies
introduce new card designs and
captions. Hallmark is offering
"The Collection," a new group of
six Chanukah cards that feature
artwork by renowned Jewish
artists. The cards reflect Jewish
heritage and include a variety
of styles and techniques, like
fine art painting, batik and ta-
pestry.
Stylish, high quality cards,
like some for Christmas, are also
now available for Chanukah.
Daniel Deutsch, president of
Shulsinger Sales Inc., a
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based manufac-
turer of Judaica, said his com-
pany is borrowing styles from
Christmas cards: "Chanukah
cards had to be able to compete
with the things offered for
Christmas," said Mr. Deutsch,
whose company has more than
100 different kinds of cards for
Chanukah. "We now have
embossed and deep foil-stamped
cards for Chanukah and most
are made in Israel."
Each year, new captions on
Chanukah cards reflect chang-
ing families and society. There
are cards which incorporate im-
ages of both Chanukah and
Christmas that are geared to in-
termarried couples or targeted
to non-Jews wishing to celebrate
the holidays with their Jewish
friends.
While the big companies have
increased their offerings for
Chanukah, it is the smaller, spe-
cialty companies that cater to
Jewish customers who offer the
most substantial selection.
These companies offer every-
thing from kaleidoscopes and
shoelaces decorated with meno-
rahs to plush dreidels and felt
menorahs. Sallie Abelson,
founder of Contemporary De-
signs, an Iowa gift company, has
incorporated Chanukah motifs
into a variety of little gifts for
children.
Some of the items offered for
Chanukah, particularly those
for children, are borrowed di-
rectly from Christmas and trou-
ble some Jewish manufacturers
and store owners.
Many of the companies that
supply goods for Designer Prod-
ucts draw the line at producing
an item like a Chanukah stock-
ing, which has been available in
card and gift shops for the last
few years.

`That's too close to a cross-
over into Christmas," said Mr.
Gimbelman.
Mr. Zucker said he will not
stock items like Chanukah
stockings or bushes because of
their ties to Christmas. "I refuse
to be a part of the Christianiza-
tion of Chanukah," he said.
Rabbis and parents alike
have dealt with this issue before,
after years of facing the
"December dilemma" with Jew-
ish children who may feel
left out because much more pub-
lic attention is paid to Christ-
mas.
"It's very hard to ignore the
fact that we live in the Ameri-
canized version of a Christian
country," said Rabbi Burton L.
Visotzky, the Nathan and Janet
Appelman Associate Professor
of Midrash and Interreligious
Studies at the Conservative
Jewish Theological Seminary of
America, in New York. "Tele-
vision presses the gift-giving
season and plays on the needs
of children. As the father of two,
I know it doesn't hurt to attend
to those needs."
But giving into the commer-
cialization of the holiday season
disturbs some rabbis.
"The commercialization of
any holiday is to be decried
whether it's Christmas or
Chanukah," said Alexander
Schindler, president of the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, the central body
of Reform Judaism in the Unit-

ed States and Canada. "True be-
lievers resent the intrusion of
the marketplace. It takes away
from the sanctity of the holiday."
Still, some rabbis believe the
commercialization is actually
helpful. The need to compete
with Christmas helps remind
some less observant Jews to cel-
ebrate Chanukah with their
families.
Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, exec-
utive vice president of the Union
of Orthodox Jewish Congrega-
tions of America, said when a
holiday receives a great deal of
attention in a community, it en-
courages people to take interest
and explore the true meaning of
the holiday.
While some may feel the in-
creased interest in Chanukah is
merely a way to stay shoulder-
to-shoulder with Christmas, oth-
ers believe it signals a far
broader trend — a return to tra-
ditionalism
"There's no question about it,
people are definitely becoming
more aware of their back-
grounds," said Mr. Deutsch.
"Baby boomers are having kids
and they are reaching out to
their roots and traditions."
Ms. Abelson concurs. "The
whole ethnic market has
grown," she said. "Jews are pret-
ty proud of who they are and
they want to celebrate that
pride." ❑

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