Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Minister of Education and leader of the Jewish Home Party, decried the rising trend among some Israelis of mixing Chanukah with non-Jewish celebrations.
Speaking at a Maariv-sponsored conference on Wednesday, Rabbi Peretz said that he had seen a message from the national inspector for kindergartens wishing everyone “a happy holiday of holidays,” instead of Happy Chanukah. She said she did so because of the confluence of holidays in the calendar this year.
“Of late I feel that we are not celebrating Chanukah but Chanu-Christmas, or a holiday of holidays, as I learned today,” he said.
“This phenomenon is a symptom of a broader problem. I am the education minister of all Israeli children, Jews, Arabs, Christians, and I respect everyone and give space to all, but I am not prepared to compromise on our identity… The miracle of the oil is our identity. The victory of the Hasmoneans is our identity. An identity that differentiates us from the Hellenistic culture of those times.”
Rabbi Peretz said that he was in favor of multiculturalism but that “multiculturalism needs to know to preserve your culture and not turn it into folklore.”
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Jewish tourists have visited Nazareth over the last few days, according to tourist information office staff Roz Hayek, “more than any other year,” she told The Times of Israel.
Most come only out of curiosity or looking for entertainment, not for religious reasons.
But one Jewish visitor from Kfar Saba, said she went to Nazareth to make a statement: “We wanted to show respect to another culture,” she said, standing in a bakery selling Chanukah donuts alongside foods significant to other religions.