A Chanukah Joke

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


A Chanukah Tale


In the year 2005 the 25th of December and the 25th day of Kislev, 2766 occurred on the same night. This was a most unusual event since the Jewish calendar is based on 12 lunar cycles of 29 1/2 days so that it is only 354 days, eight hours long. A solar year lasts 365 1/4 days so that after three years a difference of 33 days is inevitable. It is for this reason that the Jewish calendar, consisting of twelve 29 and 30 day months, adds an additional month seven times every 19 years. It is also for this reason that the great pagan holy day and Chanukah (dedication) are rarely celebrated on the same night.

And so, the members of the House of God (Beth El) were delighted when the Jewish billionaire Mayor of Metropolis lit the great menorah and the magnificent fir tree within minutes of each other. The mayor was a member of the House of God (Beth El), a synagogue (assembly in Greek) whose wealthy congregants were indeed the most prominent in all of Metropolis.

Magnificent weddings and bar/bas mitzvahs were held there every week. So opulent were these celebrations that they were the talk of the town. The celebrants appeared regularly on the society page of the Metropolitan Times where the members of the House of God (Beth El) were often seen for winning golf tournaments in country clubs or attending charity balls and “coming out” parties.

Now, it so happened that on the second day of Chanukah (dedication) a poor man walked into the office of the House of God (Beth El). His poverty was evident for he was wearing no overcoat despite the cold of winter. His torn jacket, his old jeans and his dilapidated shoes gave witness to his social standing.

As he entered the office one of the secretaries behind a sturdy counter greeted him. "We have no handouts here," said the secretary. "The Salvation Army is two blocks down the street."

"I came to apply for membership,” said the poor man. The secretary was aghast. She hurried into the oak paneled office of the executive director, who confronted the poor man at the office counter with an application form. “Please fill out this application for membership,” said the executive director, and handed the poor man a ballpoint pen and a sheet of paper. The poor man filled out the form. Having no permanent address nor a telephone, he left these spaces blank. When he was finished, the secretary took the application and told him to come back one week later. She said that the rabbi was out of town and that therefore he could not sign this application until he returned in one week.

The poor man came back a week later. Now, the secretary told him that the Board of Directors had not met as yet this month but that he should come back in a week so that the board could have an opportunity to approve his membership. The poor man came back a week later. Now the secretary said that the board had put his name on a waiting list because there were so many people who wanted to join the House of God (Beth El).

So the poor man walked into the cold street looking dejected. On the street he met God. God asked him, "My son, why are you so dejected and so depressed?" “I feel just terrible,” said the poor man, “because my fellow Jews don't want me in the House of God (Beth El). I can't get in." "I know just how you feel," said God. "After all, I can't get in either." 

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Football & American Identity (2005) &  Youth Culture and the Generation Gap (2005) with Dr. Ursula A. Falk.

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