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posted: 11/24/2012 6:00 AM

Take a hip approach to Hanukkah holiday

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  • A a holiday sweater decorated in a dradle print.

      A a holiday sweater decorated in a dradle print.
    Courtesy of GeltFiend.com

  • A holiday sweater decorated in a dradle print.

      A holiday sweater decorated in a dradle print.
    Courtesy of GeltFiend.com

  • A variety of Jewish-themes sweaters can be the perfect gift for the Jewish hipster this holiday season.

      A variety of Jewish-themes sweaters can be the perfect gift for the Jewish hipster this holiday season.
    Courtesy of GeltFiend.com

  • The Wine-O bag, an insulated bag bottle bag, is a perfect gift for the Jewish hipster.

      The Wine-O bag, an insulated bag bottle bag, is a perfect gift for the Jewish hipster.
    Courtesy of Moderntribe.com

  • The Wine-O bag is an insulated bag bottle bag.

      The Wine-O bag is an insulated bag bottle bag.
    Courtesy of Moderntribe.com

  • Toast with a Star of David symbol burned into it is made by a specialty Star of David Toaster.

      Toast with a Star of David symbol burned into it is made by a specialty Star of David Toaster.
    Courtesy of BurntImpressions.com

  • Star of David Toasters burn a Star of David design into every slice.

      Star of David Toasters burn a Star of David design into every slice.
    Courtesy of BurntImpressions.com

  • A menorah made from a bicycle chain is a different kind of gift for the Jewish holiday season.

      A menorah made from a bicycle chain is a different kind of gift for the Jewish holiday season.
    Courtesy of Moderntribe.com

 
By Leanne Italie
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- These are a few of Chicky Winkleman's favorite Hanukkah things: ironic, ugly sweaters adorned with Stars of David, his roommate's Christmas tree and making latkes, alone in the afternoon.

The vegetarian living in Burlington, Vt., knows of what he speaks when it comes to marking the eight-day holiday, hipster style. He's co-founder with older brother Duckie of hipsterjew.com, which ran a make-your-own menorah contest last year and enjoys about 50,000 page views a month, presumably among like-minded young Jews.

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The problem with hipster Hanukkah, said Winkleman, whose given name is Charles, is once you identify out loud as a hipster, you've likely lost the descriptor for life. But the preschool teacher who dabbles in standup comedy sees a variety of differences between regular Hanukkah and a hipster's touch.

On food: "There are latkes but it's usually never with people. I'm usually alone making latkes one day. It's a little depressing, but it has to be to get the true hipster Jew Hanukkah experience. It's gotta be a little bit lonely."

On the emerging tradition of ugly Hanukkah sweaters (see Geltfiend.com): "The sweaters are a way for us to get involved with the whole Christmas celebration but still separate ourselves from it." They come with Stars of David and menorahs inside brown circles that look like chocolate gelt.

On an idea his brother (real name Ari) is working on: "You know those big saint candles? He's working on a Jewish version with Woody Allen and, I don't know, maybe Barbra Streisand."

Fedoras for yarmulkes, Fair Trade olive oil or candles via the wax of locally sourced bees -- there are lots of ways to pull off a hipster's Hanukkah, even if you're not an active member of the tribe's subset. Or a tribesman of any kind.

Sage Saturn, 22, puts the "ish" in Jewish. He's fresh out of college, not a Jew but hangs out with many and works as a graphic designer for Moderntribe.com, a site loaded with ways to dive into hipster Hanukkah.

"I think more people like me are into exploring what they don't know," said Saturn, who dumped his hard-to-spell real names for two way-cool made-up ones.

Among his favorite Hanukkah things: A menorah made of recycled bicycle chain.

Saturn's boss, Moderntribe co-founder Jennie Rivlin Roberts, sees a whole lot of hipster in what she sells. There's an insulated wine bottle holder made to look like a paper bag and a two-for-one deal on those boxes of word fridge magnets -- one with Yiddish poetry and the other for bike lovers (hipsters love their fixies).

At 55, Shel Horowitz is more hippie than hipster. The expert on green and ethical marketing hipped up his Hanukkah more than a decade ago, when he moved with his wife and two small kids into a 1743 farmhouse in the western Massachusetts town of Hadley.

"We have beautiful starry skies," he said. "We light four menorahs, put them in different windows and walk around the outside of the house to look at them while singing 'Oh Chanukah.' It's just a special thing we do as a family."

His kids, now 19 and 24, still make their way home for the annual walk around the house. For Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, you can find the Horowitzes up a mountain and in a stream near their solarized colonial.

Rafi Samuels-Schwartz, managing editor of the `zine Heeb, "the new Jew review," has a few thoughts on hipster Hanukkah:

• "Jewish hipsters make their latkes out of organic, locally sourced potatoes from their CSA of choice," he wryly observed. "They can go with standard recipes, or think globally with Mexican, Indian or Korean versions."

• "While averse to wearing yarmulkes themselves, hipsters make sure their pets are dressed appropriately. That said, those Hanukkah sweaters from Geltfiend are pretty great."

• "Forget 'A Christmas Story' or 'It's a Wonderful Life,"' urged Samuels-Schwartz. "Jewish hipsters watch Hanukkah horror movies," he said, with fans of the genre anxiously anticipating the slasher "Hanukkah."

"Until the day `Hanukkah' is actually made, they usually stick with Jonathan Kesselman's `The Hebrew Hammer,"' he said.

As for the actual Festival of Lights, said Samuels-Schwartz: "For a while, Jewish hipsters celebrated Festivus, but it's just become way too commercial. Now they just celebrate Christmas."

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