I found this post on Menachem Mendel’s blog. In thinking about the question and answer, it jogged my mind about the following question with which I have struggled. On Hanukkah, we celebrate the victory of the Hasmoneans over the Syrian Greeks and the Hellenized Jews. One of the elements we celebrate is the victory of a “pure” Judaism over a syncretized Judaism which was heavily influenced by Greek culture. My question is: How can we celebrate the defeat of the syncretistic Judaism when most of us around the world are not living a “purely” Jewish life. Granted, what a pure Jewish life would be is hard to define, but clearly there is something contradictory in this. I especially found this problem when contemplating the notion of “Torah U’Madda” when that clearly appears to be some form of synthesis, which I always assumed was what was being fought against. Truth is, I know that the celebration of Hanukkah is more closely related to the military reconquest of the Temple away from Greek control. Yet, when I hear the stories of combatting hellenization, I begin to cringe, for that was only a secondary element at best.
The questioner, who wonders about the hellenization aspect of this singing group, I feel, has a very legitimate question. The question is not meant to cast aspersions on the religiousity of the group but is rather a question of whether there is something antithetical to the nature of Hanukkah when people celebrate Hanukkah in a manner that doesn’t appear “purely Jewish”.