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Hanukkah, Chrismukkah, Swastika

David Zvi Kalman discusses symbols of Hanukkah on the Bonjour Chai podcast
Dr. David Zvi Kalman is Scholar in Residence and Director of New Media at Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, where he was also a member of the inaugural cohort of North American David Hartman Center Fellows. David Zvi leads the Kogod Research Center’s research seminar on Judaism and the Natural World. David Zvi holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of Toronto. His research touches on Jewish

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.

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