The Chanukah of Our Discontent

I found myself with three hours to kill waiting for my delayed flight home from Ben Gurion Airport last week. So, as I typically do when I leave Israel, I spend my remaining shekels at the airport shops. Only this year, I was not in a spending mood. With 250 shekels in my wallet, I wandered in and out of shops looking for some small, special “made in Israel” Chanukah trinkets for my young grandchildren. Guess what. All I found was a box of Chanukah candles and a cheap dreidel buried amidst a whole display of Christmas ornaments!

In the end, I found a donation box for a local Israeli shelter for the needy where I gratefully deposited my loose change.

That left me thinking about why this Chanukah is going to be different for me, my family and probably for lots of people. Instead of spending our shrinking dollars on more meaningless stuff, we are looking to get our seasonal giving pleasure from helping others. Alright, I confess, the little ones will get a few toys and some Chanukah gelt, but the rest of us are going to live it up by giving it up for others.

I guess this is a sentiment that is building and probably driven by the drumbeat of stories about the terrible economic news and the growing needs of so many people affected by it.

I found a few web sites that have popped up and are designed to help people redefine gift giving this holiday season. Look at Changing the Present, Just Give and TisBest for a sense of what is happening. I have not yet found any Jewish web sites that make it easy for gift givers to give Jewishly in this season of extreme need. I hope somebody quickly figures it out. Chanukah is less than a month away.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.