What do you drink for Hanukkah

Wednesday 9 December 2015 by Lilian Harlander

Beery Hanukkah

December is the month of lights. The candles of the Hanukkah candlestick have been shining in Jewish households since December 7th. Like Christmas, Hanukkah has become a lucrative business for some. A craft beer entrepreneur recently started offering very special Hanukkah outfits that go well with our preparation for the next exhibition.

The eight-day festival of lights Hanukkah, which is celebrated until December 14th this year, commemorates the reconquest and reconstruction of the Second Temple in 164 B.C.E. by the Maccabees. In the foreground of the tradition of this historical event is the so-called oil miracle: At the inauguration (Hebrew Hanukkah) of the reconquered temple, the candlestick with the little remaining oil was lit and, contrary to expectations, burned for eight days. For this reason, many Jewish families light the eight-armed Hanukkah candlestick each day on Hanukkah, and oily, sweet foods are eaten at this festival.

In the 19th century in particular, points of contact between Jewish Hanukkah and Christian Christmas increased; Both of them became more and more family celebrations that had their roots less in religious origins than in a German tradition. Gifts were exchanged and children's eyes were made to shine. Chrismukkah was invented.

In the present, both are dressed in completely new clothes through renewed mixing of traditions, commercialization and consumption. In the 21st century, Christmukkah is being replaced by Chrismukka, the Christ Child who distributes gifts has put on a few pounds and rides through the nights of America as Santa Claus on his sleigh with Christmas kippa on his head.

However, a few things have remained the same: Many families around the globe still eat and drink festively and light a candle on a Hanukkah candlestick for eight days in a row. The inventive American Shmaltz Brewing Company shows that physical and mental well-being can be wonderfully combined. In 1996, Jeremy Cowan founded a microbrewery in San Francisco, invented "He’brew Beer", filled it into bottles, sold it by hand and thus laid the foundation for a craft brewery that is now successful and well-known in American circles.

True to the motto “Nomen est Omen”, the brewery's range is characterized by creative names such as the aforementioned “He’Brew”, “Rejewvenator” or “Jewbelation”. Since in the Jewish tradition the number 18 is considered a lucky number and also as much as Le Chaym! (To life!) Means, in 2014, after 18 years of brewing experience, the founder had the idea of ​​creating an anniversary beer and brewing a special edition on the occasion of Hanukkah.

This “Hanuka. Chanukah. Pass the Beer “in itself is a nice sign of how marketing strategies and new traditionalizations can be combined. However, that was not enough for Jeremy Cowan and he designed a beer gift package with eight beer bottles, a drinking glass and Hanukkah candles. Taken together - after you've drunk the beer, mind you - this makes a nice Hanukkah chandelier for the craft beer drinker's household use.

And even if you can argue about the artistic claim, this is definitely a charming idea that might actually motivate one or the other beer drinker (the beer drinkers are not forgotten here, of course!) To recreate this little piece of everyday art. And of course there is a Hanukkah edition again this year, a dark ale matured in a wooden barrel, “Hanukkah in Kentucky”, the label of which is adorned with a Hanukkah candlestick.

So a new way of giving, enjoying and celebrating, as is customary at Christmas and Hanukkah, has been invented again in an intercultural way ... and of course a new way to spend money on a nice present and to enjoy a cold beer to drink latkes or donuts baked in oil.

Save the date

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
Opening of the exhibition

April 13, 2016 to January 8, 2017
The exhibition also takes a look at the present and presents Israeli and American craft breweries whose beers also convey playful aspects of Israeli and Jewish identities.

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