Nationalism, Zionism and Ethnic Mobilization of the Jews in 1900 and Beyond

By Michael Berkowitz | Go to book overview

CHANUKAH AND ITS FUNCTION IN THE INVENTION
OF A JEWISH-HEROIC TRADITION IN
EARLY ZIONISM, 1880–1900

François Guesnet
Simon-Dubnow-Institute, Leipzig

Doch wenn dereinst dem Grab entschwebt, Zum Staunen aller Welt; Zum Siegeszuge sich erhebt Ein Makkabäerheld

Dann tönt auf Palästina's Au'n Von neuem Heldenstreit, Und Juda's Männer werden schau'n Verjüngte Herrlichkeit.

Heinrich Löwe, „Makkabäerlied “in Jüdische Volkszeitung Vol. 7 No 1 (2.1.1894)

The significance of symbols and icons, as well as their integration into collective consciousness through holiday festivities, monumentbuilding, and other practices is a well-documented element in the creation of nationally and ethnically defined collectives. This is a central element in the rise of modern nations and nationalisms.1 This chapter will analyze the modifications of Chanukah celebrations throughout the last two decades of the 19th and the beginning 20th centuries among Jews in Galicia, Congress Poland, and the Pale of Settlement, as well as the Russian metropoles (Moscow, St. Peterburg). These changes, it will be argued, were less an expression of widespread ethnic mobilisation but rather an instrument chosen by representatives of the early Zionist movement to politically educate two specific segments of the Jewish population: members of a more or less secularized bourgeoisie on the one hand, and children in educational

____________________
1
Among the most significant contributions in this field is Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983), and Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London, 1983).

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