Chanukah, A Sleepover with Style
by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence
First things first. I’m a Gentile. A Goy. A Shkutz.
I have little, if any known Jewish blood in my ancestry, and I suppose that makes this post a bit presumptuous. While I wouldn’t fault any of my Hebrew brethren and sistren (not a real word, but I’m all about equality) if they were to dismiss me out of hand for daring to comment on Chanukah fashion, but if you’ll indulge me, I write only with great respect and deep reverence for the tradition that I’ve observed my Jewish friends and neighbors celebrating around the same time as I’m burning the Yule log and hanging tinsel by the pound.
Besides, if the Elf on the Shelf and the Mensch on the Bench can get along, who’s to say I can’t craft an ode to Chanukah attire? Come on people now, smile on your brother, and all that jazz.
Nearly a decade ago, I was privileged to join an Orthodox Rabbi for a radio program in Seattle. After our enjoyable time together discussing culture and current events, he extended an invitation to my wife and me to join him and his family for a Shabbat. I said yes, then quickly did an internet search to learn about Shabbat.
We joined them and dined in an electricity-free environment, with ritual hand-washing and traditional food. I have always respected the Jewish people for their vibrant history, determination and success. As a Christian, I have always respected the Pentateuch and the rich heritage of faith and wisdom that is part of the Jewish culture. The Shabbat experience only deepened my admiration for all things Hebrew.
With that as my final salvo to demonstrate my bona fides as an outsider commenting on Chanukah, it appears that I am not alone in the search for showing up for those Eight Crazy Nights in style, as sung about in an ill-fated animated comedy by world-famous Jew Adam Sandler.
As I researched for this article, I discovered many a Jewish young person attempting to locate something that would reflect respect for the holiday while also keeping up with the times. After all, there’s only so many ways you can prepare latkes, even at the 12th Annual Latkepalooza (yes, that’s a thing):
While us Catholics and Protestants are mocking our tradition with “ugly Christmas sweater” outings, it appears as though our Jewish friends are trying to keep up with the Joneses, Smiths, and O’Briens:
Not to be outdone, mainstream magazine Fast Company has thrown some lovely sweaters into the mix.
But, what if ugly sweaters with menorahs and dreidels aren’t your thing? Apparently, there isn’t a traditional item of clothing to be worn during Chanukah, as my exhaustive web searches (I went 3 pages deep on Google and ½ page on Bing), revealed that people only wear “nice clothing” for Chanukah.
My friends, that shouldn’t be. Throughout history, many great innovations have come as the result of an outsider having a different perspective, and thus, proposing a completely original idea. Perhaps I can do the same in this instance. So, without further ado, here is my proposal for Chanukah fashion. I figure since it lasts for eight nights, you need to have some genuine evening wear. And by evening wear, I mean pajamas. If you don’t like it, well, I’m a Gentile, so just throw it out. If you do like it, send me a picture. I’d love to prove to my family that I did make a difference in this world!