So those that have celebrated Chanukah in the past, or are new to it, may have noticed an abundance of dairy dishes on the menu. So continuing on yesterday’s theme, other than being DELICIOUS, why do we eat dairy on this holiday? Well, ladies, get your pride on because it all has to do with one incredibly brave and gutsy woman!
Judith (Yehudis) was a young woman who lived in Bethulia, in the land of Judea, at the time of the war against the Greeks. In the story, Judith, a beautiful widow, is able to enter the tent of the Greek general, Holofernes because of his desire for her. Holofernes’ army was about to destroy Judith’s home, the city of Bethulia. She fed Holofernes an abundance of salty cheese, causing him a great thirst, which of course was answered with wine. Overcome with drink, he passes out and Judith uses the opportunity to decapitate him. She carries his head off in her basket, leaving his tent, while his soldiers stood nearby thinking their general was merely asleep. The next morning, upon finding that their general had been killed, the Greek army fell into disarray and fled.
Not bad, eh? I don’t know if I could have been as brave, or as ruthless. Well, what can I say? Judaism has some pretty tough women! So in memory of Judith’s bravery, we eat dairy products as well. It really is the least we can do, I mean, c’mon, decapitation? That ain’t easy! You go girl!
* photo credit – Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio, painted in 1598-99.