Join our email list

Hanukkah, Chrismukkah, Swastika

David Zvi Kalman discusses symbols of Hanukkah on the Bonjour Chai podcast
Dr. David Zvi Kalman is a research fellow in the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Kogod Research Center. He is a scholar, writer, and entrepreneur working at the intersection of technology, religion, and art. In addition to his work at the Shalom Hartman Institute, he has held research and consulting roles at Sinai and Synapses and the Sapir Institute. He is the owner of Print-O-Craft Press, an independent publishing house that has released books including Jessica Deutsch’s

Once upon a time, the swastika had no correlation to hate. It is, in fact, a millennia-old symbol of well-being and hope. It has been used—and continues to be used—by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and many other Eastern religions as a sacred symbol in homes and temples. After its image to Western eyes became tarnished in the 20th century, its origins have fallen wayside—but a recent push to keep its original meaning intact aims to change that.

And on the topic of symbolism, we look at Hanukkah merch: mugs with phrases like “Joy Vey”, greeting cards joking “Fa La La La Latke”, dreidel-shaped waffle irons and more. Where did this stuff come from? Who buys it? Rabbi Yael Buechler and writer David Zvi Kalman join to dissect whether the trend is a symptom of late-stage capitalism or a stab at religious equity.

You care about Israel, peoplehood, and vibrant, ethical Jewish communities. We do too.

Join our email list for more Hartman ideas

Join our email list


The End of Policy Substance in Israel Politics