Hanukkah Begins Tonight

photo caption: Allen Ginsberg & Bob Rosenthal Hanukah (sic) 1989. A.G. Rolliflex in Shelley [Rochelle Kraut]’s hands

Hanukkah begins this evening.  A special guest-post today from Straight Around Allen author, and Allen’s long-time secretary, Bob Rosenthal.

“This is the beginning of Hanukkah. This festival commemorates events that took place in Judea more than 2,000 years ago, when the Syrian king Antiochus ordered the Jews to abandon the Torah and publicly worship the Greek gods. This act provoked a rebellion led by Judas Maccabeus, climaxed by the retaking of the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been desecrated by the Syrians. The miracle of the last vessel of consecrated lamp oil lasting eight days is dubious. It is traditional to eat high fat foods like potato latkes (pancakes) fried in oil or jelly doughnuts

Allen had very little knowledge of Jewish tradition but he loved Jewish foods so he eagerly came to our house for Shelley’s latkes.  Notice his tie is safely strung around his collar to avoid spotting it with oil. Hanukkah is a joyous family tradition. Allen watched the lighting of the menorah and helped sing the blessings. The candles represent the rededication of holiness and are supposed to be placed in a window to light the world. The lights reflect off the black glass.  In those tiny lights, my memory of Allen’s Hanukkah burns thirty years on.”

Hanukkah menorah – photo: Bob Rosenthal


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