The eight days of Chanukah ended Dec. 6. To honor the Jewish community, I turn my column over to a college friend.

Brad was a reporter, and I an ad salesman, for the UMass Daily Collegian. Generally, the two don’t mix but Brad lived in my dorm, and we sold pizzas together. We shared a bonding weekend in 1978 hitchhiking 1,200 miles to attend the 10th anniversary of the killing (called the Kent State May 4th Massacre) by National Guard of four unarmed students at a peaceful Vietnam War protest. The anniversary’s intent was to whitewash the past by building a gym on a sacred spot where students died. Joni Mitchell’s 1970 “Big Yellow Taxi,” the lead lyric “Put up a parking lot,” served as the theme.

A poignant moment centered on a student chained to a tree about to be torn out of the ground to make way for the gym.

After a several-hour stand-off, a bulldozer began to tear up the tree from around its base with the huge claw scraping razor close, with people screaming as it got inches from her head. The order to cease came, the machinery stopped. After a lull, chain cutters removed the woman from the tree, hauling her away as excavation resumed. National Guard troops stood on rooftops, rifles ready.

Happy Chanukah! Take it away Brad!

(Below an edited portion of Brad’s “Jew News Review.”)

Superman circumcised and a bat mitzvah for the ages

By Brad Goverman

Shabbat shalom one and all! Chappy Chanukah to fellow Hebrews! What a great holiday: gifts, greasy latkes, candle lighting, a few prayers over the Chanukiah. I can’t help thinking the holiday would have remained obscure if it didn’t coincide with the Christian calendar.

What of the myths surrounding the holiday: The great Maccabees re-dedicating the temple and all that oil lasting eight days? A closer look at history would probably reveal internal civil war between the more Hellenic Jews and those Pharisees and Zealots getting a bit fed up with the Sadducees. But hey, let’s not split Hanukkah hairs.

Regardless of what happened, the way it is celebrated is where things get interesting — keep dipping those ancient latkes in applesauce and down a few jelly doughnuts, and, unlike yours truly, avoid the horror of an expanding waistline and that creeping Mendoza line on the scale.

Here are a few nuggets selected for your Jewish reading enjoyment:

Superman was circumcised!

This book, by Roy Schwartz, won an award for most odd book title. Roy is also contributing editor to The Forward. Superman is the original superhero, an American icon, and arguably the most famous character in the world — and he’s Jewish! Introduced June 1938, the Man of Steel was created by two Jewish teens, Jerry Siegel, son of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and Joe Shuster, an immigrant. They based their hero’s origin on Moses, his strength on Samson, and his nerdy secret identity on themselves.

Superman’s mostly Jewish writers borrowed generously from Jewish motifs, basing Krypton’s past on Genesis and Exodus, its society on Jewish culture, the trial of Lex Luthor on Adolf Eichmann’s, and a future holiday celebrating Superman on Passover. To learn more about the “Mensch of Steel” read this book with the award-winning odd title.

Chanukah finally in Hollywood?

I’m often jealous of the great Christmas-themed movies compared to the dearth on the Jewish side. My family of origin watched “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” annually, my father would embarrassingly yell out the window at the newspaper boy to get him the turkey in the window of the butcher shop, and then, to the bewilderment of the poor kid, yell out “An intelligent boy, a remarkable boy!” That ritual gave way to my family watching “Love Actually” and “Die Hard.”

Hallmark and a few other studios are starting to get into the Chanukah movie biz; this year there are offerings worthy of consideration. Hallmark’s “Eight Gifts of Hanukkah” airs this weekend. It’s billed as the channel’s first film entirely about the Jewish festival, and stars Israeli actress Inbar Lavi and Canadian Jake Epstein, who appeared in the 2019 film “Mistletoe & Menorahs.” Really.

A bat mitzvah delayed

Let’s end this week’s JNR on a positive note. Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords stood before the congregation in Tucson, Ariz., kissing her tallit, preparing to chant from the Torah for the first time. Rabbi Stephanie Aaron placed her hand atop Giffords’ hand, her voice rising and falling with Giffords’ own. It was an emotional moment two decades in the making. Giffords — whose Hebrew name is Gavriella, meaning “my strength is God” — is the granddaughter of a rabbi, descended from a long line of Lithuanian rabbis, but did not become bat mitzvah at the traditional age. She thought about an adult bat mitzvah in early 2000s, but life — and a near-fatal shooting — got in the way.

Brad out.

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“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.” — Jeremy Irons, actor (b. 1948)

Reade Brower is the owner of these newspapers.