Of all holidays, Hanukkah is perhaps the easiest target for making punny jokes about weed. Call it Chronikkah, Marijuanikkah (Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song, anyone?), or the festival of lights, all eight nights of Hanukkah are about getting lit. To that end, on the first night of our Hanukkah celebration, I gifted my family with an eight-strain flight of the finest, organic, greenhouse-grown bud, courtesy of Lowell Herb Co.
The packaging alone was so impressive that for a moment, I felt like a kid again, getting this excited over a box. Inside, a cast of of sativa, hybrid, and indica eighths were lined up in two rows with dazzling strain names like Ruby Slippers (a cherry, piney, lemony hybrid), my personal favorite Royal Highness (a sagey, fruity hybrid), ChemOG (a citrusy, sativa-dominant hybrid), Miss USA (a floral, spicy, earthy indica), White Buffalo (a sweet, woodsy sativa), Bad Girl (a fresh, outdoorsy sativa), Dream Queen (a fresh, fruity sativa), and Laffy Taffy (a sweet, pungent indica).
If pairing a strain with each phase of the Hanukkah celebration — equipped with a competitive game of dreidel, chocolate gelt, and take-out latkes from the beloved Jewish deli Canter's — doesn't caricaturize LA Jewish pot culture, then I'm not sure what does. To top off the night, we executed a taste test, which devolved into laughter, tears, dad jokes, and some Ruby Slippers-inspired existential insights from my otherwise, usually neurotic Jewish mother. The strain, she said, was quite jovial, but clearly also put her in a more lofty, provocative headspace.
We found that ChemOG, for instance, offered a chill, only slightly energetic high, good for playing dreidel after dinner. And Laffy Taffy, on the other hand, was more on the mellow side, with a light, but clear-headed body high, my mother concluded. It would be a nice accessory to curling up for a movie once you've stuffed yourself with latkes and exhausted yourself from dreidel.
"Bad Girl," she continued, after getting high enough to get creative with her descriptions of each strain, "is like a cleansing breath in yoga," while Miss USA, my dad said, was "everything you'd expect from a light, smooth indica" — a good segue from playing dreidel to topping off with a jelly donut and crashing on the couch.
However, beyond the fun and games of taste testing the Hanukkah miracle that was this entire ounce of fine cannabis, the flight seemed to have a deeper belonging in the spirit of the holiday. Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Jewish Maccabee rebels, who against all odds, drove out the army of Antiochus Epiphanes, who tried to suppress any practice of the Jewish religion in his empire. Though the Jewish temple in Jerusalem had been desecrated by the Greek army, upon the Maccabees' victory, the Jews sought to rededicate it, and in doing so, were blessed with enough oil to burn for eight nights, even though it seemed as if they only had enough for one night.
Hanukkah celebrates both light and levitas, while reminding us to believe in miracles, and stay cheery and bright in the dead of winter. "There's a lightness in this herb and that's what Hanukkah is all about," my dad said — by this time, stoned, quiet, and contemplative. He must have been having one of those moments where you finally just get to sit and be, pontificating over the whirlwind of experiences leading up to that moment of stillness.
Both cannabis and the Jewish people have been through their fair of struggles, serving as scapegoats in terms of drug prohibition and anti-Semitic persecution, respectively. And yet, similarly, the story of Hanukkah is one of unlikely victory by a small group of rebels fighting for something that was unpopular with the governing regime — not altogether different from the unlikely, yet victorious group of cannabis activists (at least in 30 states where some degree of medical cannabis is legal), who have been fighting for marijuana law reform, in spite of federal law.
Perhaps that wasn't quite the Hanukkah moral I thought we'd come to, but Jewish holidays do get you to focus on history. All the while, my mother is giggling, my boyfriend lounging on the couch, and my dad's girlfriend blissed out with a smile plastered across her face. After all the different taste tests, it's unclear by now who's high off what and which strain is doing the trick. But with high spirits, and the haze of the holiday having drowned out our regular family bickering, the flight got everyone to light up and lighten up — perhaps our own Hanukkah miracle, in and of itself.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Herb Co.