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Hellenism is Alive and Well in America

The modern day Hellenists are the Jews of the Diaspora who have the ability to move to Israel, but prefer to identify with a foreign country and foreign culture.

Canukkah-1

Sorry to spoil your Chanukah. While many people consider the leftists in Israel the Hellenists of today, the term more fittingly describes the Jews of the Diaspora who have the ability to move to Israel, but prefer to identify with the foreign country and foreign culture where they live.

This is exactly what a Hellenist is – as Webster’s Dictionary states: “A person living in Hellenist times who was Greek in language, outlook, and way of life, but was not Greek in ancestry, like a Hellenist Jew.”

This description fits the American Jew, or English Jew, or Australian Jew of today. They prefer a foreign language over Hebrew; they prefer to live in a foreign land; and they chase after foreign cultures, outlooks, and ways of living, to be just like the Americans, loving baseball, the movies, the New York Times, addicting to American TV shows, fashions, cars, Presidents, and American ambitions, just like the Hellenists did in the time of the Greeks, abandoning their holy identity as Bnei Yisrael, their own Hebrew language, their beards and Hebrew garb, to become clean shaven, tunic-wearing copies of the Greeks, going to their bawdy theaters, concerts, brothels and pubs, rushing to their sporting events held in the nude, and even extending their foreskins to hide the holy mark of their circumcisions so they would look like everyone else at the baths.

Ask any Israeli leftist what his identity is, and he will answer, an Israeli, or a Jew. Ask your average American Jew what his identity is, and he will answer, an American. This is true Hellenism. Today it’s called Americanism, that’s all.

Even the Chanukah dreidel makes this distinction clear. In the Diaspora, a kid spinning the dreidel understands that “A great miracle happened THERE.” In Israel. Not in Paris, Melbourne, or New York. He instinctively realizes that the real Jewish place is Israel. That’s where Jewish history happened, and that’s where it is unfolding today. The Jewish child naturally understands that Israel is his true home, until his parents and Hebrew school teachers and rabbis and Federations brainwash him into becoming a Hellenist like they are.

Chanukah and Purim are both holidays established by the Sages, but we only recite the joyous Hallel prayer on Chanukah. Why? Because, even though the Jews were saved on Purim, it was only a partial salvation since they were still living under the Persians in a foreign land. At the end of the dramatic victory, Ester was still living in the palace with Achashverus, the goy.

In contrast, the salvation of Chanukah and its joy were complete, for the victory led to renewed Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel and the eradication of Hellenism. Our true joy can only come when we are in the Land of Israel being our true selves, as we say in the Psalm we recite on Shabbat before Birkat HaMazone, the Grace after Meals: “When the Lord brought back the exiles to Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with joyous song.” In contrast, the Sages decreed that we should recite a different Psalm during the week after eating (not that anyone bothers or wants to remember): “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

There is no true Jewish happiness in Brooklyn or Beverly Hills. Thus, the Sages established that it be written on all Diaspora dreidels: “A great miracle happened THERE,” so that every child would know (before he was brainwashed) that true Jewish happiness, heroism, and life happens THERE, in the Land of Israel, not in foreign lands among the Greeks and their modern-day counterparts, who, instead of wearing sandals and tunics, wear Florsheims, designer sport jackets, and ties.

Happy Chanukah!

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


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36 Responses to “Hellenism is Alive and Well in America”

  1. Tzvi Fishman says:

    I apologize to my readers for the immodest photo that was posted to accompanying my blog. Happy Hanukah anyway.

  2. As an American Jew, I prefer to live here in the USA, a country with religious liberty for all, including women.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Tzvi, as you well know, that photo would not be considered immodest by most people. And your insistence that it's immodest is not going to win you any new admirers among the Hellenists. So, why do you do it? Why do you use shame and condemnation to try to persuade us Jewish heretics to return to Israel and orthodoxy, when you know you're just creating resentment?

  4. Jay Kitainik says:

    While living in Israel is certainly meritorious, practically speaking living in the Diaspora is also necessary. Do you think that Israel would be where it is today without the influence American Jews have?

  5. Benjamin Rau says:

    When did America become a Greek Nation?… and if Israel was truly home to the Jews, then where is the House of Ha-Shem? where is His throne?… why are idols and their shrines given more prominence than Ha-Shem? … This article is a bit of “the pot calling the kettle black”

  6. If that is how you feel. Stop playing dreidel. Seriously, it was a game that the Jews adopted during the Middle Ages from existing European culture.

  7. Grace Acosta says:

    So why are so many Israeli Jews moving to America? Because there is no parnossa there for many of them, and their families are starving. There is only so long that one can live on tzedacka and chessed money. If you have any self respect at all, you need to eventually go out and find a job – even if that means leaving your homeland.

  8. I defy you to find a single law on the books of the State of Israel that in any way curtails the civil or religious freedoms of women here.

    “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

  9. Then why is the Israeli economy healthy while the rest of the world is talking about cliffs, bailouts, and recession?

    And you're arguing two different things. The people living on tzedaka and chesed is a veiled reference to charedim, and the yordim are typically secular Israelis.

  10. Charlie Hall says:

    Marc Gottlieb You obviously haven't noticed what has been going on at the kotel.

  11. Charlie Hall says:

    The problem is that he considers a lot of non-heretics to be heretics.

  12. Charlie Hall says:

    Marc Gottlieb The Israeli economy is healthy because it has rejected the right wing laissez-faire austerity policies that are plaguing Europe and the US. In particular, its draconian regulations on its financial institutions prevented them from bringing down the economy.

  13. Liad Bar-el says:

    Palestinians, Progressives, Peace Now united to ban Chanukah and Diaspora Jews united to ban Israel. Chanukah in the Diaspora is just another ritual holiday for kids only. I wish that you, Tzvi, your family and everyone else who sincerely care all have a happy Chanukah.

  14. נורה בושל בושל says:

    Januka, la fiesta de las Luces, comienza el día 25 del mes Judío de Kislev, Año 5.773 y dura ocho días. En el calendario gregoriano, Las velas de Januka se encienden entre el 8 y el 15 de Diciembre de 2012.

    -Un Poco de Historia.
    La palabra hebrea Januka significa “inauguración”. En el siglo 2 AEC, la época del Segundo Templo Sagrado, el régimen sirio-griego de Antíoco pretendió alejar a los Judíos del Judaísmo, con la esperanza de asimilarlos a la cultura griega. Antíoco declaró ilegal la observancia del Judaísmo – incluyendo la circuncisión, el Shabat y el estudio de Torát – castigando al trasgresor con pena de muerte. Muchos Judíos – llamados helenistas – comenzaron a asimilarse a la cultura griega, tomando nombres griegos y casándose con no Judíos. Esto comenzó a deteriorar la base de la vida Judía y la práctica del Judaísmo.
    Cuando los griegos desafiaron a los Judíos y les ordenaron sacrificar un cerdo a un dios griego, unos pocos Judíos valientes tomaron las colinas de Judea en una flagrante revuelta en contra de esta amenaza a la vida Judía. Liderados por Matityahu, y luego por su hijo Yehuda el Macabeo, esta pequeña banda de Judíos devotos desató un conflicto armado en contra del ejército sirio-griego.
    Antíoco envió miles de tropas bien armadas para aplastar la rebelión, pero después de tres años, los Macabeos tuvieron un éxito milagroso en contra de todos los pronósticos, y echaron de su tierra a los extranjeros. La victoria es equiparable a una victoria Israelí en contra de todas las potencias del mundo de hoy en día, juntas.
    Los guerreros Judíos entraron a Ierushalaim y encontraron el Templo Sagrado en ruinas y profanado con ídolos. Los Macabeos lo limpiaron, y lo reinauguraron el 25 de Kislev. Pero cuando llegó el momento de re-encender la Menorá, revisaron todo el Templo, y sólo encontraron una vasija de aceite puro que llevaba el sello del Sumo Sacerdote. De todas formas encendieron la Menorá, y fueron recompensados con un milagro: Esa pequeña vasija de aceite ardió por ocho días, el tiempo necesario para producir un nuevo suministro de aceite.
    A partir de entonces, los Judíos han observado una festividad durante ocho días, en honor a esta victoria histórica y al milagro del aceite. Para publicar el milagro de Januka, durante los ocho días se añaden al rezo de Shajarit las alabanzas especiales de Halel, y en las noches se enciende la Janukiá.
    -Instrucciones para el Encendido de Velas.
    De acuerdo a la tradición ashkenazí, cada persona enciende su propia Janukiá. En la tradición sefaradí se enciende una sola Janukiá por familia.
    ¿Qué Janukiá encender?
    Para publicar qué noche de Januka es exactamente, todas las velas de la Janukiá deben estar a la misma altura – y preferiblemente en línea recta. Si no es así, las velas podrían no ser distinguidas con facilidad, dando la impresión de ser una gran antorcha.
    Además de las ocho velas principales, la Janukiá tiene una vela auxiliar llamada “shamash”. Como tenemos prohibido utilizar las velas de Januka para cualquier otro propósito que no sea el “verlas”, cualquier beneficio que pudiéramos obtener de su luz se considera que proviene del shamash.
    Como el shamash no cuenta como una de las ocho velas regulares, tu Janukiá debe tener el shamash separado de algún modo – ubicado más alto que las otras velas o fuera de la línea recta.
    ¿Qué Velas Encender?
    Lo más importante es que tus velas deben arder por al menos 30 minutos después de que oscurezca (¡las famosas velas de color duran eso!). En muchos lugares se pueden conseguir velas de colores más largas.
    De hecho, es preferible utilizar aceite de oliva, porque el milagro de los Macabeos ocurrió con aceite de oliva. Se pueden poner vasos de vidrio con aceite en los soportes de las velas de cualquier Janukiá común. En algunos lugares hasta se pueden conseguir kits de vasos descartables con el aceite dentro, ya medido.
    ¿Dónde Encender?
    Para publicitar el milagro de la mejor manera, lo ideal es encender la Janukiá del lado de afuera del portal de entrada de tu casa, del lado izquierdo cuando se entra (la mezuzá está del lado derecho, de este modo estás “rodeado de mitzvot”). En Israel, mucha gente enciende afuera en cajas de vidrio construidas especialmente para una Janukiá.
    Si esto no es práctico, la Janukiá debe ser encendida en una ventana que mire hacia la vía pública.
    Quienes viven en un piso superior deben encender contra una ventana. Si, por alguna razón, la Janukiá no puede ser encendida cerca de una ventana, debe ser encendida dentro de la casa sobre una mesa, esto al menos cumple la mitzvá de “publicar el milagro” para los miembros de la familia.
    Como la mitzvá se cumple precisamente en el momento del encendido, si uno mueve la Janukiá a un lugar más apropiado después de encenderla, entonces, no cumple con la mitzvá.
    ¿Cuándo Encender?
    Preferiblemente, la Janukiá debe ser encendida en el momento del anochecer. Sin embargo, es mejor esperar a que todos los miembros de la familia estén presentes. Esto aporta a la atmósfera familiar y también maximiza la mitzvá de “publicar el milagro”. La Janukiá puede ser encendida (con las bendiciones) tarde en la noche, siempre que haya personas despiertas.
    La Janukiá debe permanecer encendida por lo menos 30 minutos después del anochecer, y durante dicho tiempo no se puede obtener beneficio de su luz.
    En la tarde del viernes, la Janukiá debe ser encendida 18 minutos antes de la puesta del sol. Y como la Janukiá tiene que arder durante 30 minutos en la noche, las velas que se utilizan el viernes necesitan ser más grandes que las “velas de colores” normales (que por lo general no arden más de media hora).
    ¿Cómo Encender?
    La primera noche, coloca una vela en el extremo derecho, mirando de frente a la Janukiá. Esto se aplica ya sea que la Janukiá esté al lado de una puerta o frente a una ventana.
    Otra vela es colocada como shamash (vela auxiliar más alta) que es utilizada para encender las otras. El shamash no cuenta como una de las velas.
    Primero enciende el shamash, luego recita las bendiciones, y luego utiliza el shamash para encender la vela de Januka.
    En la segunda noche, coloca dos velas en el extremo derecho – y utiliza el shamash para encender primero la que está más a la izquierda.
    En la tercera noche, coloca tres velas en el extremo derecho – y utiliza el shamash para encender en orden, siempre de izquierda a derecha.
    Sigue este mismo procedimiento cada noche de Januka… ¡hasta que todas las velas estén encendidas y resplandeciendo brillantemente! Shalom! Januka…

  15. Chaiya Eitan says:

    What's immodest about it??? She isn't naked! But other than that, I agree with the premise of the article.

  16. YOUR REIGIOUS LIBERTY HERE IS FAST FADING OUT, WITH THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION, MISTER.

  17. Gil Gilman says:

    There can be no doubt that christian europeans of various countries played a mnemonic spinning top game with evidence of this going back about 600 years. The word "dreidel" itself comes from a german word meaning "spin." The german game contained the letters were N, G, H, and S, representing nichts, ganz, halb and stel, with their attendant meanings. These correspond exactly to the hebrew game, and the shin was not changed to peh until after 1948. Whether the europeans detived this game from Jews, or vice versa, could be a focus for scholarly debate if it was at all important. The fact remains that garb of european origin has become the mainstay of Chasidim, and aspects of Pesach have also been influence by practices from other lands of the dispersion. I think the author of this article, has himself put a "spin" on the idea of hellenistic jews just to egg on (hidden reference to Pesach) a few incendiaries. Or is it true that orthodox jews in Israel go about clad exclusively in robes, turbans and sandals? And these were the typical garb of the nomadic populations that were enslved in Egypt. Please don't be like the racist demagogues of the gentiles who love only themselves, and those who perfectly agree with their cant. For us, Chanukah is all about the Feast of Dedication, when the Maccabees, and a bunch of farmers overcame the Syrians who sought to sacrifice a pig on the mizbe'ah. That act of courage enabled us to be here today, discussing all this nothing.

  18. Gil Gilman says:

    There can be no doubt that gentile europeans of various countries played a mnemonic spinning top game with evidence of this going back about 600 years. The word "dreidel" itself comes from a german word meaning "spin." The german game contained the letters were N, G, H, and S, representing nichts, ganz, halb and stel, with their attendant meanings. These correspond exactly to the hebrew game, and the shin was not changed to peh until after 1948. Whether the europeans derived this game from Jews, or vice versa, could be a focus for scholarly debate if it were at all important. The fact remains that garb of european origin has become the mainstay of Chasidim, and aspects of Pesach have also been influenced by practices from other lands of the dispersion. I think the author of this article, has himself put a "spin" on the idea of hellenistic jews just to egg on (hidden reference to Pesach) a few incendiaries. Or is it true that orthodox jews in Israel go about clad exclusively in robes, turbans and sandals? And these were the typical garb of the nomadic populations that were enslaved in Egypt. All along I thought tzitzis were the distinguishing garment. The racist demagogues of the gentiles love only themselves, and those who perfectly agree with their cant. For us, Chanukah is all about the Feast of Dedication, when the Maccabees, and a bunch of farmers overcame the Syrians who sought to sacrifice a pig on the mizbe'ah. That act of courage enabled us to be here today, discussing all this nothing. Tzvi has made the mistake of declaring some of the wheat "weeds" before the final accounting. Or is it all "spin?"

  19. David Weber says:

    If Israel was run by fools like you it wouldn't last a week. And after its destruction, guess where schmoes like you would be running for help. I guess you have no problem taking American Jewish donations.

  20. Marc Gottlieb I defy you to deny reality. Oh wait, you already did.

  21. Charlie Hall says:

    Jason Buckwheat I haven't seen or experienced any restrictions on anyone's religious liberty here in America.

  22. Charlie Hall says:

    Never seen a ban on Chanukah in the US.

  23. Lara Denver says:

    Mr Fishman, you make sweeping judgements here about all the Jews that are in the diaspora. Do you not see any distinction at all between people who you describe as heretics, and people who would love to be in the Israeli homeland, but can't get there? Many of us have lives you obviously cannot or do not want to understand, and hurdles to get over that you don't seem to care about. A zionist does not necessarily have all the things you need to get to Israel, even if we want to be there.

  24. Lara Denver says:

    Mr Fishman, you make sweeping judgements here about all the Jews that are in the diaspora. Do you not see any distinction at all between people who you describe as heretics, and people who would love to be in the Israeli homeland, but can't get there? Many of us have lives you obviously cannot or do not want to understand, and hurdles to get over that you don't seem to care about. A zionist does not necessarily have all the things you need to get to Israel, even if we want to be there.

  25. Liad Bar-el says:

    The first sentence of my post above of which you are referring to includes the title of the previous blog. I forgot the quotation marks. I did not state that there was a ban on Chanukah in the US as you have claimed.
    I'm amazed that Diasporah Jews can find comfort and happiness in their exile of Hilul HaShem while Israel is suffering. They say by their actions, "let the people of Israel worry about themselves." As stated in Tannith, "When a person partakes in the sorrows of the community, he will also partake in its consolation." The reverse is also true of which (same reference) "His sin will not be atoned until he dies."

  26. Liad Bar-el says:

    Lara, Tzvi has stated many times that there are Diaspora Jews who support Israel whole heartedly and live in exile wishing daily that they could come to Israel but can't for various reasons. If you are upset by Tzvi’s statements, then there is hope for you … unlike those who don’t care.
    You stated, "A zionist does not necessarily have all the things you need to get to Israel…" IMO, a true Zionist needs to prioritize his "needs" to fit those of our forefathers.

  27. Liad Bar-el says:

    The problems Israel has is from the people whom you support in America who want to destroy Israel. It is people like Tzvi who trust in HaShem and not in "schmoes" who look to Israel's destruction and think that Israel needs money made from Jewish blood.

  28. Liad Bar-el says:

    Just because most people believe something to be true, doesn't mean that it is not absolutely insane and immoral. You and Charlie might need to face reality because reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away because it is based on truth. Immodesty is dying and in the near future it will be destroyed completely as will all sins at every level with the coming of the Mosiach.

  29. Liad Bar-el says:

    Keep your "American influence" for we in Israel don't need any more Obamas who support the Muslim Brotherhood.

  30. Jeff Gunn says:

    I find this offensive… be who you are wherever you are… you are making judgements you have no qualifications to make… I live in canada and I am not a hellenist… I am a jew and I am a citizen of this good earth…

  31. Yehuda Cohen says:

    And you are qualified to make a judgement to disqualify the judgements of others?
    The sages living outside the Holy Land of Israel were asked by various Kings to give their adice to the King but delclined because they were not spiritually connected to HaShem living outside the Holy Land. Advice from Americans to Israel is lacking for sure and just as Canadian money is worth less than the American dollar, so is their advice.

  32. Maybe our more righteous cousins would like to come kill us like in the Chanuka story? I'm disgusted by the self-righteousness that is positively dripping from this article. Anyone reposting it should be ashamed of themselves.

  33. Hola amiga xq te desapareciste …estas bien contesta ..bendiciones .

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Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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