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Corporations And Chanukah -

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CHANUKAH skit.doc (89 KB)

 


To juxtapose the story of chanukah and how the Greeks tired to convert the Jews with the history of corperate America and the threats of both

costumes, sets, etc

CORPORATIONS and CHANUKAH (skit, approx 25 minutes)

Concept by Stephen Jascourt
Narrator and Set B written by Stephen Jascourt.
Set A* written by Gabriel Bankier-Plotkin
*Includes narrator part inside set A in scene 1 and first narrator paragraph inside set A in scene 6. Does not include second narrator paragraph inside set A in scene 6.
Performed and videotaped at University of Wisconsin-Madison Hillel (1996?)

This light-hearted simple-minded yet informative play draws amazing parallels between the broad historical context leading up to the Maccabean revolution we celebrate as Chanukah today and the history and role of corporations in the structure of society and government in the United States.
The purpose of this play is to raise awareness of how the current state of society is both undesirable and a historical anomaly, and to stimulate discussion and action. The essence of Judaism is to create that which can be, instead of remaining stuck with that which is. We can use this play to open eyes about our present situation, examine how it came to be and what it came from, thus stimulating you to think about and act on how we can make things better.
You are free to copy, use, and change this play in part or in its entirety but not for profit. Credit must be given to the above authors for the concept and parts which are used, and changes or omissions must be identified and credited to those who created the changes. If you do make use of this, please drop me an email so I can follow how it is being used.

Set A refers to set on Jews and Greeks, Set B refers to set on corporations. Each set has dialog between two characters (not always the same two in each scene). Ideally, the two sets are always up (though not speaking) at the same time on different halves of the stage or room. The idea is to connote a parallel history between Set A and Set B within each scene. Additionally there is one narrator throughout.

Narrator: Once upon a time, there were peoples of many religions, namely Jews [background shouts: YEAH!! clapping, cheering] and pagans [background shouts: HEATHENS! hissing]. Once upon another time, there were many kinds of governments, namely rule by the people [background: USA! USA! USA!] and rule over the people [background: Long lived the king]. Let's see how each of these came to be, how they were, and the story of what happened to them.

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Scene 1: History

set A:

Biblical: Tormented history of Jews, receiving torah, going through desert, fighting many enemies, and eventually being able to practice and flourish uninhibited

Pharaoh: I am a ruler and slave holder, King of Egypt and master of the Jews. Let my people go? Never. Throw at me locusts and darkness and boils, turn my rivers into blood - your God is no match for the mighty Ra. Build me a pyramid and sleep in the dust. You will work when I say and eat what I give you. With my sword in hand, you will never be free to practice your religion.

Narrator [as burning bush]: You are a leader of a great and holy people, I am the God of your forefathers -- take your fellow Hebrews from bondage.

Moses: You're right, burning bush. We are the people of a rich ancestry, with a religion our children must be free to live and take pride in. Show me the way to Canaan, the land promised to my forefathers. This oppression must end.

Narrator [as burning bush]: So God imposed on Egypt the final plague, the smiting of the first born, and Pharaoh sent off the Jews. They ran from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea as the hands of God split the waters apart. Having changed his mind, Pharaoh set out after the Hebrews, but God took care of that as well, closing the sea upon Pharaoh and his soldiers. The Hebrews sang, and set on their way. It was the beginning of the faith God instilled in their hearts. Then the Hebrews struggled, through famine and internal strife, yet all these times God came to their rescue. Finally they reached Mt. Sinai. Moses ascended, got the tablets -- but took too long. The Golden Calf of materialism was erected by the Hebrews, fearing Moses would never return. Anger, yelling, broken tablets. Up again went Moses, this time bringing back a covenant, the commandments and Torah -- and the Hebrews were on their way. Monotheism was born and the Hebrews had made a covenant with God that they would always be free to practice their religion. A couple years later they were delivered to the border of Canaan.

Moses: It took generations enduring slavery and 40 years wandering the desert, but looking down on the land of milk and honey is a sight to behold. After Pharaoh was drowned in the sea, our God, Yahweh, led us to freedom -- both as a pillar of fire by night, guiding us on our path, and as a lawgiver and spiritual force, imparting to us the ways to a life of piety and fulfillment. God and I are in business together. I saw His back and we made a pact -- we will be God's people, following the mitzvot of Judaism, and God will make us strong, protecting and mentoring us. Home at last and free as Jews.

set B:

Colonial America

Corporation: [proudly holding British flag, wearing crown, well dressed] What am I? I am a royal corporation. I am chartered by the king, his royal highness.

American: [interrupts, pointing to butt] hindness

Corporation: I may be the East India Company. I collect taxes for the king. I may be the Hudson Bay company. I carry out the policies of the king in your land wherever you may be. I have been chartered to be a colony. The London Corporation, I am the Virginia Colony and carry out the royal will in the new world. Or the Plymouth charter, likewise. My charter allows, actually instructs, me to appoint your governors. My roots are deep in time, my kind has existed since the Roman times and the middle ages. My arms are long, and they reach for everything you own.

American: Who am I? I am a natural person. That's a legal term, it doesn't mean I'm a granola head, it means I'm just like you, a human being. I might be a farmer. I might be an artisan. I might be a businessman. I can do business just fine without a special corporate charter. I don't like this corporation. He is oppressive and takes away my natural rights. In the 17th century, now that's last century, philosopher Thomas Hobbes called corporations "worms in the body politic". Adam Smith in his book, The Wealth of Nations, feared corporations would restrain competition, creating monopolies and reducing my liberty. Thomas Paine

Corporation [interrupts]: ouch, pain

American: had some Common Sense to encourage rebellion against corporations and the king that props them up. Let's get rid of him! [points to corporation, fires a cannon ball, puff of smoke, American flag rises, Corporation's British flag falls, star spangled banner plays (a few seconds, enough for audience to recognize song)]

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Narrator: That history brings us up to the time our story begins. After many struggles, the Jews secured freedom to practice their religion and live as free people. It was made so and all was good. And after great travails, the Americans created a government for the people, to be ruled by the people. Unfortunately only white males were legally considered people, but it was a start, and we shall pretend, it was good.

Scene 2: Utopia

play utopia music at beginning of each set

Set A:

Ancient Israel at time of flourishing, say during King David's rule (for instance). Rabbi and student studying Torah.

Rabbi: ... da-bair el b'nay Yisrael lay-more, hamakreev et zevach shalamav l'adonay ... so that the poor may come and pick for themselves from the corners of your fields. You see, Avram, from the days of Cain and Abel, there has been for the Jews an obligation to do what is right. The first fruits of the season are always taken to the temple and sacrificed to God. Then from the rest of the crop a family should use for itself all but 10% of the fields.

Avram: And that is the tithe left for the poor to reap for themselves.

Rabbi: Exactly, God first, and our needs second. All ar fed and nothing is wasted. Now go home and prepare for the Sabbath. [Avram runs off.] Ah, the sweet feeling of Shabbat is in the air. The Hebrews -- the people of Jacob -- have finally made for themselves a great nation, where Rabbi and student can learn together from the teachings of God, where the first fruits of the season can be brought to the temple and burned in celebration of the change of the season and our covenant with Adonay. Alas, where Shabbat is a day of rest, uniting an entire community in prayer and rejoicing. The work of the week is hard -- tilling the fields and carrying produce to market on our backs. But doing it all in the presence of God makes it wonderful. To think that we were once slaves in the land of Egypt. Now, all is good.

Set B:

Early 1800s in United States
American dressed as master, corporation is chained or roped to American

American: Life is good. I am now in charge. I now elect my governors, my state representatives. My elected officials get to charter a corporation to do a specific task, like to build bridges or to be a bank.

Corporation: And I get special privileges, like raising funds through selling stock. And I am usually created to do something very big and important which the average businessperson doesn't have the means to do. That makes me swell with pride, and it means I don't have to worry too much about competition.

American: My state creates corporations and can kill them too. For any reason. If they cause harm, they are gone. Eliminated. If they owe debt, the stockholders must pay it. If they do more than their charter allows, gone. They are created for limited time, say 30years, after that, they have to reapply or -- gone. They cannot own stock in another corporation, no takeovers allowed. They cannot make even indirect political contributions. No messing with my government! Rule by people, not by corporations!

Corporation: I am not a person. I am just a legal fiction. I cannot even own real estate except that which is required to do my chartered duty. I'm not even allowed to set my own prices.

American: A private business can set its own prices, but the corporation is the creation of the state and cannot be trusted, it is too monopolistic. And all its records are open to inspection by public officials. No secrets! No price gouging! No tyranny! No more control of jobs! No more control of production! No more buying off the press! No more dominating the elections process! No more stacking the courts! All these things happened before! All will happen no more! Life is good!

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Narrator: That's how it was. In principle and in spirit it was like moshiach and utopia. In reality, material life was hard. Changes were underway. Let's see what the changes looked like.

Scene 3: Introducing Progress

Set A:

Israel under influence of Greeks.
Greek soldier and Jew, who walks up holding Bible, carrying fruit on his back.

Greek: Hey, where are you going? No, let me guess. To temple to burn that fruit so that Yawah is happy and you lead a good life.

Jew: Yes, I am. [trying to walk by]

Greek: [holding him up] Not so fast. Do you really think that works? That book you're holding, the one with the commandments to go burn this fruit, when was it written? A couple hundred years ago? Don't you think anything has changed since then? Your book tells you to dress like that [long sleeves, head covered]? Well, it's hot outside. It's hot and you are carrying a bag of fruit -- you have a beard for God's sake! And that ugly language you speak. All those Chet, Kaf, Chaf, and Tza's. You think the gods are really pleased by your mumbling that gross mumbo-jumbo? That same old ugly language people have been speaking for hundreds and hundreds of years?

Jew: How dare you insult my religion and my God. Our religion, our way of life, is humane and compassionate -- it builds a community of people striving to lead virtuous lives, concerned with doing right and treating others as we treat ourselves. The steadfast tradition of the Jews is its strength! Not a weakness.

Greek: You Jews have it wrong. Concern for others? Study over play? It is time to move forward by enjoying yourself, testing the limits of your personal freedom. Community is out and self-interest is in. Don't burn that fruit for God -- sell it... or eat it yourself [grabs an apple out of Jew's basket and starts munching on it]. Our strength is giving people what they want -- better clothes, gymnasiums to swim in and play in, all the food they want and whatever they think tastes good. Our ideas are exciting and people all over the land are being shown our ways. Our philosophers are explaining nature. Ever heard of science? Why don't you come out of the cave -- quit looking at the shadows on the wall! We have built ships that can sail all over the world. International Olympic games. Who wants one God when he can have many? The future lies with Antiochus the King, Athena and Nike, not Yahweh, beards, and chhh [as in a long chet, not an english "ch"]. [walks away]

Jew: What has become of my peaceful Israel? My holy people? I fear that these Greeks are too powerful, and the word of God is being eclipsed.

Set B:

United States mid-late 1800s

Corporation [still roped or chained]: I bring new things to improve the standard of living. Railroads-- I created them. Mining for iron, coal to power the engines of progress, steel and manufacturing, and banking to make the economy go around. But I need to be unshackled and free to accomplish. [throws off rope or chain]. I will get the judges to get these people and their laws off my back. I need to be able to take private property for railroads and mines. Jury trials are bad for me, these people don't like me, so harm I do shall be assessed by judges rather than juries. Workers are responsible for causing their own injuries on the job. I do business across many states, so state laws don't affect me, only federal laws apply. Wage and hours laws created by states violate the rights of individual workers to negotiate for their own wages and working conditions, so even though I'll give them less, I want to keep more for myself, such laws applying to all workers are not valid. These are good changes, they help progress and industry.

American: So has ruled the judges. As Wisconsin governor Dodge said in 1839, "This history of corporations unequivocally demonstrates that men, in their corporate capacity, will do acts which they would not perpetrate as individuals."

Narrator: and the war for freeing the slaves came, the north against the south

Corporation: Now I'm needed by even the government itself to mobilize large shipments of food, clothing, etc. I shall skewer them to fill my pockets! I shall work with the government established by the people, I shall ally with them in their efforts to our mutual benefit.

American: But a handful of stalwart judges sounded warnings: "There is looming up a new and dark power...the enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economical conquest only, but for political power... For the first time really in our politics, money is taking the field as an organized power. It is unscrupulous, arrogant, and overbearing... The question will arise in your day, ...which shall rule -- wealth or man; which shall lead -- money or intellect; who shall fill public stations -- educated and patriotic freemen, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?" Thus spoke Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Ryan to the UW Law School class of 1873.

----------

Narrator: So we see pureness of principle was traded for progress, for new creations and new possibilities. The Greeks of their time and America in its time were leaders in technology, intellect, and aggregate economic growth. Ideals were compromised supposedly for the advancement of civilization and benefits to society. Now the story continues.

Scene 4: Defiling of Pureness

Set A:

Israel under Antiochus' rule. Antiochus on elevated chair, Jew below.

Antiochus: I am now your master and you will all be Greeks.

Jew: Never. We have made a covenant with God so that as long as we live by the mitzvot of God, Yahweh would be our protector and ruler. God has given me the tools to lead a free and holy life -- and nobody can take that away form me.

Antiochus: Wrong again, Jew. I have invaded your country and infused in it a new way of life more powerful and more appealing than your own. Who wants to wait for salvation when it is here before them? My army and the Syrian army have joined forces. They are smart enough to know when change is good -- and we will make sure that the Jewish religion is squashed.

Jew: No way. It can't happen. As it says in the Torah, "The Lord will reign forever and ever."

Antiochus: Well then, we will just have to find a new God. We will tear down the alters of your not-so-great Temple -- the dumpy building without any pillars -- and replace it with statues of Athena, Zeus, and Nike -- and myself! We will paint on the walls, decorating it for a new festival. Antiochus Day. We will take all the produce from this year's harvest and prepare it to be eaten. Then we will show you a real sacrifice -- roasting a pig on the steps of the Temple as the sun sets for your Sabbath. Israel will be no longer a country of the Jews, but my state. Glorious in its political power and rich in wealth, not piety.

Jew: Yahweh will never let you get away with this!

Antiochus: I see nobody here to stop me. Your Yahweh would need a powerful army to defeat me, but all I see are books and scholars. [turning aside] Tear down the alter, let Greece's reign begin!

Set B:

United States around 1900, urban/polluted setting (smokestacks in background, etc.)

Corporation: [points at self] I'm a person now! I'm a person just like you!

American: This is obscene! How can you [pointing at Corporation] be a person? I am a natural person. I have rights, under the bill of rights, meant for natural persons. Freedom of speech, freedom from search and seizure, protections from the government at federal and state level. Right to due process.

Corporation: [pompously] In 1886, the United States Supreme Court declared me an artificial person. I now have all the same rights you do! And I can live forever!

American: Absurd ruling! It was based on applying the 14th amendment to corporations. The 14th amendment was created to give legal standing and protections to African Americans, for the first time. And now you manipulate it to make you a person! Even a woman hasn't been given full rights yet! President Grover Cleveland said, "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."

Corporation: Well then, we'll have to have a more friendly president. Now that freedom of speech, political speech for me -- corporations -- is allowed, and freedom of political association for me -- corporations -- is allowed, I will bring the country a president.

American: You mean buy a president.

Corporation: Exactly. We will select McKinley. And I will buy your state houses too. All will be mine. I am equally entitled to it. You and me, we are equal now.

American: Equal? You control the printing presses. You control the factories. You control jobs, wages, working conditions. You control what goes into the food. You cause massive destruction of the environment and don't pay damages. The nation's wealth is becoming concentrated in the hands of some 200 of you fictitious persons while a hundred million natural people like me live in squalid existence.

Corporation: Why should I care? I have nothing to fear from you. Why don't you try to regulate me? Let's have regulations. I'll even help you make them.

American: Why would you want to do that?

Corporation: Well, you see, I can make regulations that are hard for small businesses, so little people like you can't compete with big people like me. And I can make sure the regulations don't inhibit progress and development of new products, good things which help bring us into the modern world and live better.

Narrator: And so society was turned upside down as the power of natural people over fictitious people was reduced to regulations, and many state laws were overturned and replaced with corporation-friendly laws. Corporations were described by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1916 as "The Frankenstein monster which states have created by their corporation laws."

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Narrator: So now we see there was more than a sacrifice of principles, there was a defiling of the very basic tenets deemed holy to Jews and American natural persons. But this became accepted by society. Many Jews and Americans liked what the Greeks and Corporations brought, or at least defended it, while some did not.

Scene 5: Acceptance by Society

Set A:

Israel under Greeks

Jew-1: Hey, this is great. Fires everywhere, dancing -- men with women.

Jew-2: What are you eating?

Jew-1: Pig. It is delicious. I have never had anything but lamb, and I must admit, pig tastes good.

Jew-2: You know it is an impure animal -- unkosher, unholy.

Jew-1: It's not so bad. A simple deviation. It isn't like I'm eating it with goat's milk.

Jew-2: And what are you wearing?

Jew-1: Can't you see? I'm not wearing anything. It's too hot for clothes. Do you see any of the Greeks wearing clothes now? I'm thinking of shaving my beard.

Jew-2: I don't believe it.

Jew-1: Listen. The Greeks are so worldly and knowledgeable. They've taught me about the importance of self-interest. How people all over the world are reading their books, learning their language. Why should we be the different ones?

Jew-2: Would you listen to yourself? This is what happens when you spend more time in the gymnasium than studying with the rabbi. You teach your children Greek and let them read their books. What about God?

Jew-1: What about God? I need to bring bread to my family just like my kids will to their family. If they know Greek and adopt Greek names, they will be able to do that -- work and take care of themselves.

Jew-2: That is a defeatist attitude. I have been talking with my friend Judah Maccabee and he has shown me the light. If we identify as Greeks, everything that we are -- as Israelites, as partners of God, as spiritual beings -- is lost. What we have is not old-fashioned, but pure and beautiful tradition. Judaism has worked for so many centuries -- it instills dignity in people by commanding thanks for what we are given, it provides joy by separating the holy from the profane. Hellenism instills only greed and provides a false morality which accentuates an individual 's desires over a community's needs.

Jew-1: What does all this have to do with the new festival?

Jew -2: The Greeks have made us slaves again -- this time in our own land.

Jew-1: Whatever. I feel as free as I ever have. [starts dancing off]

Set B:

United States today (suburbia)

American-1: Hey, this is so cool! MTV! Microwave oven! Nike Air Jordans!

American-2: What do you eat?

American-1: McDonalds! Yummy! and Mc...Hardees, they have a new big bacon and beef burger! And if I want something healthy, I buy low fat foods from Nabisco or Kraft.

American-2: Nabisco and Kraft are owned by tobacco companies, they kill people.

American-1: People can choose. People can choose not to smoke. But hey, I smoke low-tar cigarettes, not so risky, eh? [cough, hack]

American-2: And what do you wear?

American-1: I buy clothes at Lands End. Or Levis. Or JC Penney. Or Foot Locker.

American-2: How do you decide what style to wear?

American-1: Whatever's hip, the corporations tell me that through their cool advertisements and cool catalogs.

American-2: And how do you know what's going on in the world?

American-1: TV news. Easy and painless. You don't need to know nothin' else. Besides, who has time to worry about news? I work hard and just want to chill out and have a beer. My friends with kids don't even have time for that.

American-2: Who do you work for?

American-1: Corporations. They're kind to give me a job. You know, I'd be in big trouble if they decided to leave town.

American-2: And why are your friends so busy they can't chill out once in a while?

American-1: They have to spend so much time commuting in traffic jams, but that's o.k., they have such cool cars! And some have to work two jobs to afford daycare for the kids and health insurance. How about if you answer some of these questions yourself!

American-2: Well, I like to eat organically grown food and wear clothes not made with sweatshop and prison and child labor. I like to live near my work and in a community that provides all the services I need in walking or biking distance or near public transit. But my choices are limited, few, and expensive, because of how a few corporations have dominated production and planning. And I'd like my tax money to go to the poor. Did you know the government gives more tax money and tax breaks to corporations than the amount spent on poor people? The government even gives more per person in the form of tax breaks to middle and upper income people than all the benefits to poor people.

American-1: What does rich and poor people and welfare have to do with corporations?

American-2: Corporations fund politics, and the corporate barons are wealthy and out to protect their own interests.

American-1: Well, I still like all the toys and modern lifestyle corporations give me. It's the American way. To do away with corporations would be, like, un-American.

---------------

Narrator: Some people liked the new society, even some people who suffered in it enthusiastically defended it. Now it was up to those with a vision back to an era of light, a vision to see through the darkest of times and into the future, to restore the purity that once was and could yet be. It was up to the keepers of the flame to make holy what was desecrated and enable Jews and natural persons to be free. They must struggle against great odds. So our story continues.

Scene 6: A Call to Action

Set A:

Maccabean revolt

Judah Maccabee: Enough is enough! The Greeks must be taken off of their thrones and the alters of God restored in the Temple! Let us beat our plowshares into swords and show Antiochus his final day.

Friend: But Judah, they are so powerful. They have bigger, better weapons. They have ships. They have taken over Syria and Egypt and everywhere else around us. How are we, commoners, and only a handful of all Hebrews, going to defeat such a powerful force?

Judah Maccabee: [growing increasingly passionate] This, my friend, is a battle of good versus evil -- freedom versus oppression. When Moses brought the Jews from slavery to the land of Canaan, he was facing incredible odds -- but they were overcome. Whenever the Jews have faced persecution , they have overcome it -- often against the fiercest of opponents. This is about the light of justice. Our ability to live the lives we want, to speak the language we want, to worship the God we believe in, to respect the world around us. Look at the Greeks running around in all their nakedness, defacing our holiest places -- turning our neighbors into slaves of foreign ideas and culture. Their "holiday" has gone unchecked for way too long, and if we ever want to see our freedom again we must act now!

Friend: Son of Matethias, I will fight with you!

Narrator: Off went the Maccabees, the Hasidim of Ancient Israel, the religious few who would not be persuaded by the Hellenistic trends of their time. Although they were small in number, they were rich in piety and truly believed in their cause. They fought deviously, using the hilly terrain to their advantage. They fought long and hard, and in the end, were victorious. [background cheers] The last of their battles was in Jerusalem, where they ended upon the steps of their temple.

Friend: [out of breath] Finally, we are able to enter our own Beit HaMikdash! [ walks forward, looks horrified]. What has happened?

Judah Maccabee: The Greeks have made of our holiest place an obscene sight. [looks around] At least, amidst all this trash and debauchery, the Menorah still remains, and with just enough oil to last for the night. The menorah has survived the conquest of the Greeks like Judaism has. We have been able to preserve what is dear to us -- age old customs and traditions which were challenged by forces we neither welcomed nor wanted. Our freedom to practice Judaism remains because we have taken matters into our own hands and fought for what is right. And though we have fought this evil in the name of theocracy, itself a fairly oppressive governance, it is our own governance. Rule of the Hebrews, by the Hebrews.

Narrator: The Maccabees actually were ruthless, both against the Greeks and against fellow Jews who had accepted Greek customs and way of life. They wished to create an enforced Jewish theocracy. We do not wish to glorify that -- we are celebrating that they had their vision of justice and fought for it and to win their freedom against oppression.

Set B:

United States today

American: Calling all people, calling all natural persons!! [points into the audience] -- Hey, are you a natural person? and you? come on up here and help me! We need to organize, to form unions, to form alliances, to win back power. This is a struggle for power. There's more of us than of them [points at corporation].

Corporation: You don't scare me. I have more money. Money equals power and you can't change my constitutional right that money equals free speech. And I have more people too, people who are afraid to challenge me because of what I can do to them, or who simply don't care. You can never challenge me.

American: We can buy local, support locally owned business. We can design our communities. We can support boycotts and push for campaign finance reform and join third parties and even revoke your charters.

Corporations: I dare you. You could but you won't. We control the ideas accepted by most people. Your ideas will only be accepted by a few. You will be the laughing stock. I can feel my big Rush of pro-corporate opinion now. [pause] And even now I am making preparations lest you should succeed. I now control forces all over the world. I control international trade organizations to which your government must bow down. I create international treaties which grant me greater powers. There is nothing you can do. I will live forever. Fictitious people rule the world. We will rule forever!

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Narrator: The Maccabees were outnumbered and outarmed in their struggle for freedom. They rang out a clarion call for all who believed in what was holy and sacred. Today we celebrate their miracle of victory with a festival of lights at the darkest time of year, the time around the new moon closest to the shortest days of the year. Without even the moon to guide us through the darkest recesses of civilization, we too must be maccabees in our own day, in the sense of looking ahead to a new future with the light of our knowledge and ideas, including old principles we still treasure and including knowledge of what once was, how it came to be, and how it was changed. We too have a great struggle. And we too live in the capital of where that struggle is taking place, in the great world exporter of corporatization of the planet. Our struggle also is for freedom. When we kindle the Chanukah candles, we should realize that each one of us can be a keeper of the flame, if we choose to be, and we can kindle that light in others. The Ner Tamid, the everlasting light, is not just oil burning in a flask in the temple, it is an everlasting light within each of us through the generations. Our Torah has laws prohibiting the massive accumulation of wealth and property that corporations have achieved. While we have not discussed Torah here today, the parallels between the story of Chanukah and the story of corporations are stunning. Perhaps the fight against corporate power run amok indeed has a Jewish tinge. However, there is a cautionary note -- we should not be intolerant in our approach as were the Maccabees, nor should we emulate their use of violence.
We hope that you found our program illuminating and inspiring.

We now would be happy to answer questions and entertain discussion. If you would like more information ... [have brochures for local organizations working for people power such as those protesting the World Trade Organization, sweatshop labor, etc., and those promoting citizen ballot initiative, and tikkun olam organizations, etc.; in Madison we had information and representatives from the Tikkun Olam group at Hillel and from Democracy Unlimited]

CORPORATIONS and CHANUKAH (skit, approx 25 minutes)

Concept by Stephen Jascourt
Narrator and Set B written by Stephen Jascourt.
Set A* written by Gabriel Bankier-Plotkin
*Includes narrator part inside set A in scene 1 and first narrator paragraph inside set A in scene 6. Does not include second narrator paragraph inside set A in scene 6.
Performed and videotaped at University of Wisconsin-Madison Hillel (1996?)

This light-hearted simple-minded yet informative play draws amazing parallels between the broad historical context leading up to the Maccabean revolution we celebrate as Chanukah today and the history and role of corporations in the structure of society and government in the United States.
The purpose of this play is to raise awareness of how the current state of society is both undesirable and a historical anomaly, and to stimulate discussion and action. The essence of Judaism is to create that which can be, instead of remaining stuck with that which is. We can use this play to open eyes about our present situation, examine how it came to be and what it came from, thus stimulating you to think about and act on how we can make things better.
You are free to copy, use, and change this play in part or in its entirety but not for profit. Credit must be given to the above authors for the concept and parts which are used, and changes or omissions must be identified and credited to those who created the changes. If you do make use of this, please drop me an email so I can follow how it is being used.

Set A refers to set on Jews and Greeks, Set B refers to set on corporations. Each set has dialog between two characters (not always the same two in each scene). Ideally, the two sets are always up (though not speaking) at the same time on different halves of the stage or room. The idea is to connote a parallel history between Set A and Set B within each scene. Additionally there is one narrator throughout.

Narrator: Once upon a time, there were peoples of many religions, namely Jews [background shouts: YEAH!! clapping, cheering] and pagans [background shouts: HEATHENS! hissing]. Once upon another time, there were many kinds of governments, namely rule by the people [background: USA! USA! USA!] and rule over the people [background: Long lived the king]. Let's see how each of these came to be, how they were, and the story of what happened to them.

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Scene 1: History

set A:

Biblical: Tormented history of Jews, receiving torah, going through desert, fighting many enemies, and eventually being able to practice and flourish uninhibited

Pharaoh: I am a ruler and slave holder, King of Egypt and master of the Jews. Let my people go? Never. Throw at me locusts and darkness and boils, turn my rivers into blood - your God is no match for the mighty Ra. Build me a pyramid and sleep in the dust. You will work when I say and eat what I give you. With my sword in hand, you will never be free to practice your religion.

Narrator [as burning bush]: You are a leader of a great and holy people, I am the God of your forefathers -- take your fellow Hebrews from bondage.

Moses: You're right, burning bush. We are the people of a rich ancestry, with a religion our children must be free to live and take pride in. Show me the way to Canaan, the land promised to my forefathers. This oppression must end.

Narrator [as burning bush]: So God imposed on Egypt the final plague, the smiting of the first born, and Pharaoh sent off the Jews. They ran from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea as the hands of God split the waters apart. Having changed his mind, Pharaoh set out after the Hebrews, but God took care of that as well, closing the sea upon Pharaoh and his soldiers. The Hebrews sang, and set on their way. It was the beginning of the faith God instilled in their hearts. Then the Hebrews struggled, through famine and internal strife, yet all these times God came to their rescue. Finally they reached Mt. Sinai. Moses ascended, got the tablets -- but took too long. The Golden Calf of materialism was erected by the Hebrews, fearing Moses would never return. Anger, yelling, broken tablets. Up again went Moses, this time bringing back a covenant, the commandments and Torah -- and the Hebrews were on their way. Monotheism was born and the Hebrews had made a covenant with God that they would always be free to practice their religion. A couple years later they were delivered to the border of Canaan.

Moses: It took generations enduring slavery and 40 years wandering the desert, but looking down on the land of milk and honey is a sight to behold. After Pharaoh was drowned in the sea, our God, Yahweh, led us to freedom -- both as a pillar of fire by night, guiding us on our path, and as a lawgiver and spiritual force, imparting to us the ways to a life of piety and fulfillment. God and I are in business together. I saw His back and we made a pact -- we will be God's people, following the mitzvot of Judaism, and God will make us strong, protecting and mentoring us. Home at last and free as Jews.

set B:

Colonial America

Corporation: [proudly holding British flag, wearing crown, well dressed] What am I? I am a royal corporation. I am chartered by the king, his royal highness.

American: [interrupts, pointing to butt] hindness

Corporation: I may be the East India Company. I collect taxes for the king. I may be the Hudson Bay company. I carry out the policies of the king in your land wherever you may be. I have been chartered to be a colony. The London Corporation, I am the Virginia Colony and carry out the royal will in the new world. Or the Plymouth charter, likewise. My charter allows, actually instructs, me to appoint your governors. My roots are deep in time, my kind has existed since the Roman times and the middle ages. My arms are long, and they reach for everything you own.

American: Who am I? I am a natural person. That's a legal term, it doesn't mean I'm a granola head, it means I'm just like you, a human being. I might be a farmer. I might be an artisan. I might be a businessman. I can do business just fine without a special corporate charter. I don't like this corporation. He is oppressive and takes away my natural rights. In the 17th century, now that's last century, philosopher Thomas Hobbes called corporations "worms in the body politic". Adam Smith in his book, The Wealth of Nations, feared corporations would restrain competition, creating monopolies and reducing my liberty. Thomas Paine

Corporation [interrupts]: ouch, pain

American: had some Common Sense to encourage rebellion against corporations and the king that props them up. Let's get rid of him! [points to corporation, fires a cannon ball, puff of smoke, American flag rises, Corporation's British flag falls, star spangled banner plays (a few seconds, enough for audience to recognize song)]

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Narrator: That history brings us up to the time our story begins. After many struggles, the Jews secured freedom to practice their religion and live as free people. It was made so and all was good. And after great travails, the Americans created a government for the people, to be ruled by the people. Unfortunately only white males were legally considered people, but it was a start, and we shall pretend, it was good.

Scene 2: Utopia

play utopia music at beginning of each set

Set A:

Ancient Israel at time of flourishing, say during King David's rule (for instance). Rabbi and student studying Torah.

Rabbi: ... da-bair el b'nay Yisrael lay-more, hamakreev et zevach shalamav l'adonay ... so that the poor may come and pick for themselves from the corners of your fields. You see, Avram, from the days of Cain and Abel, there has been for the Jews an obligation to do what is right. The first fruits of the season are always taken to the temple and sacrificed to God. Then from the rest of the crop a family should use for itself all but 10% of the fields.

Avram: And that is the tithe left for the poor to reap for themselves.

Rabbi: Exactly, God first, and our needs second. All ar fed and nothing is wasted. Now go home and prepare for the Sabbath. [Avram runs off.] Ah, the sweet feeling of Shabbat is in the air. The Hebrews -- the people of Jacob -- have finally made for themselves a great nation, where Rabbi and student can learn together from the teachings of God, where the first fruits of the season can be brought to the temple and burned in celebration of the change of the season and our covenant with Adonay. Alas, where Shabbat is a day of rest, uniting an entire community in prayer and rejoicing. The work of the week is hard -- tilling the fields and carrying produce to market on our backs. But doing it all in the presence of God makes it wonderful. To think that we were once slaves in the land of Egypt. Now, all is good.

Set B:

Early 1800s in United States
American dressed as master, corporation is chained or roped to American

American: Life is good. I am now in charge. I now elect my governors, my state representatives. My elected officials get to charter a corporation to do a specific task, like to build bridges or to be a bank.

Corporation: And I get special privileges, like raising funds through selling stock. And I am usually created to do something very big and important which the average businessperson doesn't have the means to do. That makes me swell with pride, and it means I don't have to worry too much about competition.

American: My state creates corporations and can kill them too. For any reason. If they cause harm, they are gone. Eliminated. If they owe debt, the stockholders must pay it. If they do more than their charter allows, gone. They are created for limited time, say 30years, after that, they have to reapply or -- gone. They cannot own stock in another corporation, no takeovers allowed. They cannot make even indirect political contributions. No messing with my government! Rule by people, not by corporations!

Corporation: I am not a person. I am just a legal fiction. I cannot even own real estate except that which is required to do my chartered duty. I'm not even allowed to set my own prices.

American: A private business can set its own prices, but the corporation is the creation of the state and cannot be trusted, it is too monopolistic. And all its records are open to inspection by public officials. No secrets! No price gouging! No tyranny! No more control of jobs! No more control of production! No more buying off the press! No more dominating the elections process! No more stacking the courts! All these things happened before! All will happen no more! Life is good!

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Narrator: That's how it was. In principle and in spirit it was like moshiach and utopia. In reality, material life was hard. Changes were underway. Let's see what the changes looked like.

Scene 3: Introducing Progress

Set A:

Israel under influence of Greeks.
Greek soldier and Jew, who walks up holding Bible, carrying fruit on his back.

Greek: Hey, where are you going? No, let me guess. To temple to burn that fruit so that Yawah is happy and you lead a good life.

Jew: Yes, I am. [trying to walk by]

Greek: [holding him up] Not so fast. Do you really think that works? That book you're holding, the one with the commandments to go burn this fruit, when was it written? A couple hundred years ago? Don't you think anything has changed since then? Your book tells you to dress like that [long sleeves, head covered]? Well, it's hot outside. It's hot and you are carrying a bag of fruit -- you have a beard for God's sake! And that ugly language you speak. All those Chet, Kaf, Chaf, and Tza's. You think the gods are really pleased by your mumbling that gross mumbo-jumbo? That same old ugly language people have been speaking for hundreds and hundreds of years?

Jew: How dare you insult my religion and my God. Our religion, our way of life, is humane and compassionate -- it builds a community of people striving to lead virtuous lives, concerned with doing right and treating others as we treat ourselves. The steadfast tradition of the Jews is its strength! Not a weakness.

Greek: You Jews have it wrong. Concern for others? Study over play? It is time to move forward by enjoying yourself, testing the limits of your personal freedom. Community is out and self-interest is in. Don't burn that fruit for God -- sell it... or eat it yourself [grabs an apple out of Jew's basket and starts munching on it]. Our strength is giving people what they want -- better clothes, gymnasiums to swim in and play in, all the food they want and whatever they think tastes good. Our ideas are exciting and people all over the land are being shown our ways. Our philosophers are explaining nature. Ever heard of science? Why don't you come out of the cave -- quit looking at the shadows on the wall! We have built ships that can sail all over the world. International Olympic games. Who wants one God when he can have many? The future lies with Antiochus the King, Athena and Nike, not Yahweh, beards, and chhh [as in a long chet, not an english "ch"]. [walks away]

Jew: What has become of my peaceful Israel? My holy people? I fear that these Greeks are too powerful, and the word of God is being eclipsed.

Set B:

United States mid-late 1800s

Corporation [still roped or chained]: I bring new things to improve the standard of living. Railroads-- I created them. Mining for iron, coal to power the engines of progress, steel and manufacturing, and banking to make the economy go around. But I need to be unshackled and free to accomplish. [throws off rope or chain]. I will get the judges to get these people and their laws off my back. I need to be able to take private property for railroads and mines. Jury trials are bad for me, these people don't like me, so harm I do shall be assessed by judges rather than juries. Workers are responsible for causing their own injuries on the job. I do business across many states, so state laws don't affect me, only federal laws apply. Wage and hours laws created by states violate the rights of individual workers to negotiate for their own wages and working conditions, so even though I'll give them less, I want to keep more for myself, such laws applying to all workers are not valid. These are good changes, they help progress and industry.

American: So has ruled the judges. As Wisconsin governor Dodge said in 1839, "This history of corporations unequivocally demonstrates that men, in their corporate capacity, will do acts which they would not perpetrate as individuals."

Narrator: and the war for freeing the slaves came, the north against the south

Corporation: Now I'm needed by even the government itself to mobilize large shipments of food, clothing, etc. I shall skewer them to fill my pockets! I shall work with the government established by the people, I shall ally with them in their efforts to our mutual benefit.

American: But a handful of stalwart judges sounded warnings: "There is looming up a new and dark power...the enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economical conquest only, but for political power... For the first time really in our politics, money is taking the field as an organized power. It is unscrupulous, arrogant, and overbearing... The question will arise in your day, ...which shall rule -- wealth or man; which shall lead -- money or intellect; who shall fill public stations -- educated and patriotic freemen, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?" Thus spoke Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Ryan to the UW Law School class of 1873.

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Narrator: So we see pureness of principle was traded for progress, for new creations and new possibilities. The Greeks of their time and America in its time were leaders in technology, intellect, and aggregate economic growth. Ideals were compromised supposedly for the advancement of civilization and benefits to society. Now the story continues.

Scene 4: Defiling of Pureness

Set A:

Israel under Antiochus' rule. Antiochus on elevated chair, Jew below.

Antiochus: I am now your master and you will all be Greeks.

Jew: Never. We have made a covenant with God so that as long as we live by the mitzvot of God, Yahweh would be our protector and ruler. God has given me the tools to lead a free and holy life -- and nobody can take that away form me.

Antiochus: Wrong again, Jew. I have invaded your country and infused in it a new way of life more powerful and more appealing than your own. Who wants to wait for salvation when it is here before them? My army and the Syrian army have joined forces. They are smart enough to know when change is good -- and we will make sure that the Jewish religion is squashed.

Jew: No way. It can't happen. As it says in the Torah, "The Lord will reign forever and ever."

Antiochus: Well then, we will just have to find a new God. We will tear down the alters of your not-so-great Temple -- the dumpy building without any pillars -- and replace it with statues of Athena, Zeus, and Nike -- and myself! We will paint on the walls, decorating it for a new festival. Antiochus Day. We will take all the produce from this year's harvest and prepare it to be eaten. Then we will show you a real sacrifice -- roasting a pig on the steps of the Temple as the sun sets for your Sabbath. Israel will be no longer a country of the Jews, but my state. Glorious in its political power and rich in wealth, not piety.

Jew: Yahweh will never let you get away with this!

Antiochus: I see nobody here to stop me. Your Yahweh would need a powerful army to defeat me, but all I see are books and scholars. [turning aside] Tear down the alter, let Greece's reign begin!

Set B:

United States around 1900, urban/polluted setting (smokestacks in background, etc.)

Corporation: [points at self] I'm a person now! I'm a person just like you!

American: This is obscene! How can you [pointing at Corporation] be a person? I am a natural person. I have rights, under the bill of rights, meant for natural persons. Freedom of speech, freedom from search and seizure, protections from the government at federal and state level. Right to due process.

Corporation: [pompously] In 1886, the United States Supreme Court declared me an artificial person. I now have all the same rights you do! And I can live forever!

American: Absurd ruling! It was based on applying the 14th amendment to corporations. The 14th amendment was created to give legal standing and protections to African Americans, for the first time. And now you manipulate it to make you a person! Even a woman hasn't been given full rights yet! President Grover Cleveland said, "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."

Corporation: Well then, we'll have to have a more friendly president. Now that freedom of speech, political speech for me -- corporations -- is allowed, and freedom of political association for me -- corporations -- is allowed, I will bring the country a president.

American: You mean buy a president.

Corporation: Exactly. We will select McKinley. And I will buy your state houses too. All will be mine. I am equally entitled to it. You and me, we are equal now.

American: Equal? You control the printing presses. You control the factories. You control jobs, wages, working conditions. You control what goes into the food. You cause massive destruction of the environment and don't pay damages. The nation's wealth is becoming concentrated in the hands of some 200 of you fictitious persons while a hundred million natural people like me live in squalid existence.

Corporation: Why should I care? I have nothing to fear from you. Why don't you try to regulate me? Let's have regulations. I'll even help you make them.

American: Why would you want to do that?

Corporation: Well, you see, I can make regulations that are hard for small businesses, so little people like you can't compete with big people like me. And I can make sure the regulations don't inhibit progress and development of new products, good things which help bring us into the modern world and live better.

Narrator: And so society was turned upside down as the power of natural people over fictitious people was reduced to regulations, and many state laws were overturned and replaced with corporation-friendly laws. Corporations were described by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1916 as "The Frankenstein monster which states have created by their corporation laws."

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Narrator: So now we see there was more than a sacrifice of principles, there was a defiling of the very basic tenets deemed holy to Jews and American natural persons. But this became accepted by society. Many Jews and Americans liked what the Greeks and Corporations brought, or at least defended it, while some did not.

Scene 5: Acceptance by Society

Set A:

Israel under Greeks

Jew-1: Hey, this is great. Fires everywhere, dancing -- men with women.

Jew-2: What are you eating?

Jew-1: Pig. It is delicious. I have never had anything but lamb, and I must admit, pig tastes good.

Jew-2: You know it is an impure animal -- unkosher, unholy.

Jew-1: It's not so bad. A simple deviation. It isn't like I'm eating it with goat's milk.

Jew-2: And what are you wearing?

Jew-1: Can't you see? I'm not wearing anything. It's too hot for clothes. Do you see any of the Greeks wearing clothes now? I'm thinking of shaving my beard.

Jew-2: I don't believe it.

Jew-1: Listen. The Greeks are so worldly and knowledgeable. They've taught me about the importance of self-interest. How people all over the world are reading their books, learning their language. Why should we be the different ones?

Jew-2: Would you listen to yourself? This is what happens when you spend more time in the gymnasium than studying with the rabbi. You teach your children Greek and let them read their books. What about God?

Jew-1: What about God? I need to bring bread to my family just like my kids will to their family. If they know Greek and adopt Greek names, they will be able to do that -- work and take care of themselves.

Jew-2: That is a defeatist attitude. I have been talking with my friend Judah Maccabee and he has shown me the light. If we identify as Greeks, everything that we are -- as Israelites, as partners of God, as spiritual beings -- is lost. What we have is not old-fashioned, but pure and beautiful tradition. Judaism has worked for so many centuries -- it instills dignity in people by commanding thanks for what we are given, it provides joy by separating the holy from the profane. Hellenism instills only greed and provides a false morality which accentuates an individual 's desires over a community's needs.

Jew-1: What does all this have to do with the new festival?

Jew -2: The Greeks have made us slaves again -- this time in our own land.

Jew-1: Whatever. I feel as free as I ever have. [starts dancing off]

Set B:

United States today (suburbia)

American-1: Hey, this is so cool! MTV! Microwave oven! Nike Air Jordans!

American-2: What do you eat?

American-1: McDonalds! Yummy! and Mc...Hardees, they have a new big bacon and beef burger! And if I want something healthy, I buy low fat foods from Nabisco or Kraft.

American-2: Nabisco and Kraft are owned by tobacco companies, they kill people.

American-1: People can choose. People can choose not to smoke. But hey, I smoke low-tar cigarettes, not so risky, eh? [cough, hack]

American-2: And what do you wear?

American-1: I buy clothes at Lands End. Or Levis. Or JC Penney. Or Foot Locker.

American-2: How do you decide what style to wear?

American-1: Whatever's hip, the corporations tell me that through their cool advertisements and cool catalogs.

American-2: And how do you know what's going on in the world?

American-1: TV news. Easy and painless. You don't need to know nothin' else. Besides, who has time to worry about news? I work hard and just want to chill out and have a beer. My friends with kids don't even have time for that.

American-2: Who do you work for?

American-1: Corporations. They're kind to give me a job. You know, I'd be in big trouble if they decided to leave town.

American-2: And why are your friends so busy they can't chill out once in a while?

American-1: They have to spend so much time commuting in traffic jams, but that's o.k., they have such cool cars! And some have to work two jobs to afford daycare for the kids and health insurance. How about if you answer some of these questions yourself!

American-2: Well, I like to eat organically grown food and wear clothes not made with sweatshop and prison and child labor. I like to live near my work and in a community that provides all the services I need in walking or biking distance or near public transit. But my choices are limited, few, and expensive, because of how a few corporations have dominated production and planning. And I'd like my tax money to go to the poor. Did you know the government gives more tax money and tax breaks to corporations than the amount spent on poor people? The government even gives more per person in the form of tax breaks to middle and upper income people than all the benefits to poor people.

American-1: What does rich and poor people and welfare have to do with corporations?

American-2: Corporations fund politics, and the corporate barons are wealthy and out to protect their own interests.

American-1: Well, I still like all the toys and modern lifestyle corporations give me. It's the American way. To do away with corporations would be, like, un-American.

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Narrator: Some people liked the new society, even some people who suffered in it enthusiastically defended it. Now it was up to those with a vision back to an era of light, a vision to see through the darkest of times and into the future, to restore the purity that once was and could yet be. It was up to the keepers of the flame to make holy what was desecrated and enable Jews and natural persons to be free. They must struggle against great odds. So our story continues.

Scene 6: A Call to Action

Set A:

Maccabean revolt

Judah Maccabee: Enough is enough! The Greeks must be taken off of their thrones and the alters of God restored in the Temple! Let us beat our plowshares into swords and show Antiochus his final day.

Friend: But Judah, they are so powerful. They have bigger, better weapons. They have ships. They have taken over Syria and Egypt and everywhere else around us. How are we, commoners, and only a handful of all Hebrews, going to defeat such a powerful force?

Judah Maccabee: [growing increasingly passionate] This, my friend, is a battle of good versus evil -- freedom versus oppression. When Moses brought the Jews from slavery to the land of Canaan, he was facing incredible odds -- but they were overcome. Whenever the Jews have faced persecution , they have overcome it -- often against the fiercest of opponents. This is about the light of justice. Our ability to live the lives we want, to speak the language we want, to worship the God we believe in, to respect the world around us. Look at the Greeks running around in all their nakedness, defacing our holiest places -- turning our neighbors into slaves of foreign ideas and culture. Their "holiday" has gone unchecked for way too long, and if we ever want to see our freedom again we must act now!

Friend: Son of Matethias, I will fight with you!

Narrator: Off went the Maccabees, the Hasidim of Ancient Israel, the religious few who would not be persuaded by the Hellenistic trends of their time. Although they were small in number, they were rich in piety and truly believed in their cause. They fought deviously, using the hilly terrain to their advantage. They fought long and hard, and in the end, were victorious. [background cheers] The last of their battles was in Jerusalem, where they ended upon the steps of their temple.

Friend: [out of breath] Finally, we are able to enter our own Beit HaMikdash! [ walks forward, looks horrified]. What has happened?

Judah Maccabee: The Greeks have made of our holiest place an obscene sight. [looks around] At least, amidst all this trash and debauchery, the Menorah still remains, and with just enough oil to last for the night. The menorah has survived the conquest of the Greeks like Judaism has. We have been able to preserve what is dear to us -- age old customs and traditions which were challenged by forces we neither welcomed nor wanted. Our freedom to practice Judaism remains because we have taken matters into our own hands and fought for what is right. And though we have fought this evil in the name of theocracy, itself a fairly oppressive governance, it is our own governance. Rule of the Hebrews, by the Hebrews.

Narrator: The Maccabees actually were ruthless, both against the Greeks and against fellow Jews who had accepted Greek customs and way of life. They wished to create an enforced Jewish theocracy. We do not wish to glorify that -- we are celebrating that they had their vision of justice and fought for it and to win their freedom against oppression.

Set B:

United States today

American: Calling all people, calling all natural persons!! [points into the audience] -- Hey, are you a natural person? and you? come on up here and help me! We need to organize, to form unions, to form alliances, to win back power. This is a struggle for power. There's more of us than of them [points at corporation].

Corporation: You don't scare me. I have more money. Money equals power and you can't change my constitutional right that money equals free speech. And I have more people too, people who are afraid to challenge me because of what I can do to them, or who simply don't care. You can never challenge me.

American: We can buy local, support locally owned business. We can design our communities. We can support boycotts and push for campaign finance reform and join third parties and even revoke your charters.

Corporations: I dare you. You could but you won't. We control the ideas accepted by most people. Your ideas will only be accepted by a few. You will be the laughing stock. I can feel my big Rush of pro-corporate opinion now. [pause] And even now I am making preparations lest you should succeed. I now control forces all over the world. I control international trade organizations to which your government must bow down. I create international treaties which grant me greater powers. There is nothing you can do. I will live forever. Fictitious people rule the world. We will rule forever!

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Narrator: The Maccabees were outnumbered and outarmed in their struggle for freedom. They rang out a clarion call for all who believed in what was holy and sacred. Today we celebrate their miracle of victory with a festival of lights at the darkest time of year, the time around the new moon closest to the shortest days of the year. Without even the moon to guide us through the darkest recesses of civilization, we too must be maccabees in our own day, in the sense of looking ahead to a new future with the light of our knowledge and ideas, including old principles we still treasure and including knowledge of what once was, how it came to be, and how it was changed. We too have a great struggle. And we too live in the capital of where that struggle is taking place, in the great world exporter of corporatization of the planet. Our struggle also is for freedom. When we kindle the Chanukah candles, we should realize that each one of us can be a keeper of the flame, if we choose to be, and we can kindle that light in others. The Ner Tamid, the everlasting light, is not just oil burning in a flask in the temple, it is an everlasting light within each of us through the generations. Our Torah has laws prohibiting the massive accumulation of wealth and property that corporations have achieved. While we have not discussed Torah here today, the parallels between the story of Chanukah and the story of corporations are stunning. Perhaps the fight against corporate power run amok indeed has a Jewish tinge. However, there is a cautionary note -- we should not be intolerant in our approach as were the Maccabees, nor should we emulate their use of violence.
We hope that you found our program illuminating and inspiring.

We now would be happy to answer questions and entertain discussion. If you would like more information ... [have brochures for local organizations working for people power such as those protesting the World Trade Organization, sweatshop labor, etc., and those promoting citizen ballot initiative, and tikkun olam organizations, etc.; in Madison we had information and representatives from the Tikkun Olam group at Hillel and from Democracy Unlimited]

CORPORATIONS and CHANUKAH (skit, approx 25 minutes)

Concept by Stephen Jascourt
Narrator and Set B written by Stephen Jascourt.
Set A* written by Gabriel Bankier-Plotkin
*Includes narrator part inside set A in scene 1 and first narrator paragraph inside set A in scene 6. Does not include second narrator paragraph inside set A in scene 6.
Performed and videotaped at University of Wisconsin-Madison Hillel (1996?)

This light-hearted simple-minded yet informative play draws amazing parallels between the broad historical context leading up to the Maccabean revolution we celebrate as Chanukah today and the history and role of corporations in the structure of society and government in the United States.
The purpose of this play is to raise awareness of how the current state of society is both undesirable and a historical anomaly, and to stimulate discussion and action. The essence of Judaism is to create that which can be, instead of remaining stuck with that which is. We can use this play to open eyes about our present situation, examine how it came to be and what it came from, thus stimulating you to think about and act on how we can make things better.
You are free to copy, use, and change this play in part or in its entirety but not for profit. Credit must be given to the above authors for the concept and parts which are used, and changes or omissions must be identified and credited to those who created the changes. If you do make use of this, please drop me an email so I can follow how it is being used.

Set A refers to set on Jews and Greeks, Set B refers to set on corporations. Each set has dialog between two characters (not always the same two in each scene). Ideally, the two sets are always up (though not speaking) at the same time on different halves of the stage or room. The idea is to connote a parallel history between Set A and Set B within each scene. Additionally there is one narrator throughout.

Narrator: Once upon a time, there were peoples of many religions, namely Jews [background shouts: YEAH!! clapping, cheering] and pagans [background shouts: HEATHENS! hissing]. Once upon another time, there were many kinds of governments, namely rule by the people [background: USA! USA! USA!] and rule over the people [background: Long lived the king]. Let's see how each of these came to be, how they were, and the story of what happened to them.

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Scene 1: History

set A:

Biblical: Tormented history of Jews, receiving torah, going through desert, fighting many enemies, and eventually being able to practice and flourish uninhibited

Pharaoh: I am a ruler and slave holder, King of Egypt and master of the Jews. Let my people go? Never. Throw at me locusts and darkness and boils, turn my rivers into blood - your God is no match for the mighty Ra. Build me a pyramid and sleep in the dust. You will work when I say and eat what I give you. With my sword in hand, you will never be free to practice your religion.

Narrator [as burning bush]: You are a leader of a great and holy people, I am the God of your forefathers -- take your fellow Hebrews from bondage.

Moses: You're right, burning bush. We are the people of a rich ancestry, with a religion our children must be free to live and take pride in. Show me the way to Canaan, the land promised to my forefathers. This oppression must end.

Narrator [as burning bush]: So God imposed on Egypt the final plague, the smiting of the first born, and Pharaoh sent off the Jews. They ran from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea as the hands of God split the waters apart. Having changed his mind, Pharaoh set out after the Hebrews, but God took care of that as well, closing the sea upon Pharaoh and his soldiers. The Hebrews sang, and set on their way. It was the beginning of the faith God instilled in their hearts. Then the Hebrews struggled, through famine and internal strife, yet all these times God came to their rescue. Finally they reached Mt. Sinai. Moses ascended, got the tablets -- but took too long. The Golden Calf of materialism was erected by the Hebrews, fearing Moses would never return. Anger, yelling, broken tablets. Up again went Moses, this time bringing back a covenant, the commandments and Torah -- and the Hebrews were on their way. Monotheism was born and the Hebrews had made a covenant with God that they would always be free to practice their religion. A couple years later they were delivered to the border of Canaan.

Moses: It took generations enduring slavery and 40 years wandering the desert, but looking down on the land of milk and honey is a sight to behold. After Pharaoh was drowned in the sea, our God, Yahweh, led us to freedom -- both as a pillar of fire by night, guiding us on our path, and as a lawgiver and spiritual force, imparting to us the ways to a life of piety and fulfillment. God and I are in business together. I saw His back and we made a pact -- we will be God's people, following the mitzvot of Judaism, and God will make us strong, protecting and mentoring us. Home at last and free as Jews.

set B:

Colonial America

Corporation: [proudly holding British flag, wearing crown, well dressed] What am I? I am a royal corporation. I am chartered by the king, his royal highness.

American: [interrupts, pointing to butt] hindness

Corporation: I may be the East India Company. I collect taxes for the king. I may be the Hudson Bay company. I carry out the policies of the king in your land wherever you may be. I have been chartered to be a colony. The London Corporation, I am the Virginia Colony and carry out the royal will in the new world. Or the Plymouth charter, likewise. My charter allows, actually instructs, me to appoint your governors. My roots are deep in time, my kind has existed since the Roman times and the middle ages. My arms are long, and they reach for everything you own.

American: Who am I? I am a natural person. That's a legal term, it doesn't mean I'm a granola head, it means I'm just like you, a human being. I might be a farmer. I might be an artisan. I might be a businessman. I can do business just fine without a special corporate charter. I don't like this corporation. He is oppressive and takes away my natural rights. In the 17th century, now that's last century, philosopher Thomas Hobbes called corporations "worms in the body politic". Adam Smith in his book, The Wealth of Nations, feared corporations would restrain competition, creating monopolies and reducing my liberty. Thomas Paine

Corporation [interrupts]: ouch, pain

American: had some Common Sense to encourage rebellion against corporations and the king that props them up. Let's get rid of him! [points to corporation, fires a cannon ball, puff of smoke, American flag rises, Corporation's British flag falls, star spangled banner plays (a few seconds, enough for audience to recognize song)]

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Narrator: That history brings us up to the time our story begins. After many struggles, the Jews secured freedom to practice their religion and live as free people. It was made so and all was good. And after great travails, the Americans created a government for the people, to be ruled by the people. Unfortunately only white males were legally considered people, but it was a start, and we shall pretend, it was good.

Scene 2: Utopia

play utopia music at beginning of each set

Set A:

Ancient Israel at time of flourishing, say during King David's rule (for instance). Rabbi and student studying Torah.

Rabbi: ... da-bair el b'nay Yisrael lay-more, hamakreev et zevach shalamav l'adonay ... so that the poor may come and pick for themselves from the corners of your fields. You see, Avram, from the days of Cain and Abel, there has been for the Jews an obligation to do what is right. The first fruits of the season are always taken to the temple and sacrificed to God. Then from the rest of the crop a family should use for itself all but 10% of the fields.

Avram: And that is the tithe left for the poor to reap for themselves.

Rabbi: Exactly, God first, and our needs second. All ar fed and nothing is wasted. Now go home and prepare for the Sabbath. [Avram runs off.] Ah, the sweet feeling of Shabbat is in the air. The Hebrews -- the people of Jacob -- have finally made for themselves a great nation, where Rabbi and student can learn together from the teachings of God, where the first fruits of the season can be brought to the temple and burned in celebration of the change of the season and our covenant with Adonay. Alas, where Shabbat is a day of rest, uniting an entire community in prayer and rejoicing. The work of the week is hard -- tilling the fields and carrying produce to market on our backs. But doing it all in the presence of God makes it wonderful. To think that we were once slaves in the land of Egypt. Now, all is good.

Set B:

Early 1800s in United States
American dressed as master, corporation is chained or roped to American

American: Life is good. I am now in charge. I now elect my governors, my state representatives. My elected officials get to charter a corporation to do a specific task, like to build bridges or to be a bank.

Corporation: And I get special privileges, like raising funds through selling stock. And I am usually created to do something very big and important which the average businessperson doesn't have the means to do. That makes me swell with pride, and it means I don't have to worry too much about competition.

American: My state creates corporations and can kill them too. For any reason. If they cause harm, they are gone. Eliminated. If they owe debt, the stockholders must pay it. If they do more than their charter allows, gone. They are created for limited time, say 30years, after that, they have to reapply or -- gone. They cannot own stock in another corporation, no takeovers allowed. They cannot make even indirect political contributions. No messing with my government! Rule by people, not by corporations!

Corporation: I am not a person. I am just a legal fiction. I cannot even own real estate except that which is required to do my chartered duty. I'm not even allowed to set my own prices.

American: A private business can set its own prices, but the corporation is the creation of the state and cannot be trusted, it is too monopolistic. And all its records are open to inspection by public officials. No secrets! No price gouging! No tyranny! No more control of jobs! No more control of production! No more buying off the press! No more dominating the elections process! No more stacking the courts! All these things happened before! All will happen no more! Life is good!

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Narrator: That's how it was. In principle and in spirit it was like moshiach and utopia. In reality, material life was hard. Changes were underway. Let's see what the changes looked like.

Scene 3: Introducing Progress

Set A:

Israel under influence of Greeks.
Greek soldier and Jew, who walks up holding Bible, carrying fruit on his back.

Greek: Hey, where are you going? No, let me guess. To temple to burn that fruit so that Yawah is happy and you lead a good life.

Jew: Yes, I am. [trying to walk by]

Greek: [holding him up] Not so fast. Do you really think that works? That book you're holding, the one with the commandments to go burn this fruit, when was it written? A couple hundred years ago? Don't you think anything has changed since then? Your book tells you to dress like that [long sleeves, head covered]? Well, it's hot outside. It's hot and you are carrying a bag of fruit -- you have a beard for God's sake! And that ugly language you speak. All those Chet, Kaf, Chaf, and Tza's. You think the gods are really pleased by your mumbling that gross mumbo-jumbo? That same old ugly language people have been speaking for hundreds and hundreds of years?

Jew: How dare you insult my religion and my God. Our religion, our way of life, is humane and compassionate -- it builds a community of people striving to lead virtuous lives, concerned with doing right and treating others as we treat ourselves. The steadfast tradition of the Jews is its strength! Not a weakness.

Greek: You Jews have it wrong. Concern for others? Study over play? It is time to move forward by enjoying yourself, testing the limits of your personal freedom. Community is out and self-interest is in. Don't burn that fruit for God -- sell it... or eat it yourself [grabs an apple out of Jew's basket and starts munching on it]. Our strength is giving people what they want -- better clothes, gymnasiums to swim in and play in, all the food they want and whatever they think tastes good. Our ideas are exciting and people all over the land are being shown our ways. Our philosophers are explaining nature. Ever heard of science? Why don't you come out of the cave -- quit looking at the shadows on the wall! We have built ships that can sail all over the world. International Olympic games. Who wants one God when he can have many? The future lies with Antiochus the King, Athena and Nike, not Yahweh, beards, and chhh [as in a long chet, not an english "ch"]. [walks away]

Jew: What has become of my peaceful Israel? My holy people? I fear that these Greeks are too powerful, and the word of God is being eclipsed.

Set B:

United States mid-late 1800s

Corporation [still roped or chained]: I bring new things to improve the standard of living. Railroads-- I created them. Mining for iron, coal to power the engines of progress, steel and manufacturing, and banking to make the economy go around. But I need to be unshackled and free to accomplish. [throws off rope or chain]. I will get the judges to get these people and their laws off my back. I need to be able to take private property for railroads and mines. Jury trials are bad for me, these people don't like me, so harm I do shall be assessed by judges rather than juries. Workers are responsible for causing their own injuries on the job. I do business across many states, so state laws don't affect me, only federal laws apply. Wage and hours laws created by states violate the rights of individual workers to negotiate for their own wages and working conditions, so even though I'll give them less, I want to keep more for myself, such laws applying to all workers are not valid. These are good changes, they help progress and industry.

American: So has ruled the judges. As Wisconsin governor Dodge said in 1839, "This history of corporations unequivocally demonstrates that men, in their corporate capacity, will do acts which they would not perpetrate as individuals."

Narrator: and the war for freeing the slaves came, the north against the south

Corporation: Now I'm needed by even the government itself to mobilize large shipments of food, clothing, etc. I shall skewer them to fill my pockets! I shall work with the government established by the people, I shall ally with them in their efforts to our mutual benefit.

American: But a handful of stalwart judges sounded warnings: "There is looming up a new and dark power...the enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economical conquest only, but for political power... For the first time really in our politics, money is taking the field as an organized power. It is unscrupulous, arrogant, and overbearing... The question will arise in your day, ...which shall rule -- wealth or man; which shall lead -- money or intellect; who shall fill public stations -- educated and patriotic freemen, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?" Thus spoke Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Ryan to the UW Law School class of 1873.

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Narrator: So we see pureness of principle was traded for progress, for new creations and new possibilities. The Greeks of their time and America in its time were leaders in technology, intellect, and aggregate economic growth. Ideals were compromised supposedly for the advancement of civilization and benefits to society. Now the story continues.

Scene 4: Defiling of Pureness

Set A:

Israel under Antiochus' rule. Antiochus on elevated chair, Jew below.

Antiochus: I am now your master and you will all be Greeks.

Jew: Never. We have made a covenant with God so that as long as we live by the mitzvot of God, Yahweh would be our protector and ruler. God has given me the tools to lead a free and holy life -- and nobody can take that away form me.

Antiochus: Wrong again, Jew. I have invaded your country and infused in it a new way of life more powerful and more appealing than your own. Who wants to wait for salvation when it is here before them? My army and the Syrian army have joined forces. They are smart enough to know when change is good -- and we will make sure that the Jewish religion is squashed.

Jew: No way. It can't happen. As it says in the Torah, "The Lord will reign forever and ever."

Antiochus: Well then, we will just have to find a new God. We will tear down the alters of your not-so-great Temple -- the dumpy building without any pillars -- and replace it with statues of Athena, Zeus, and Nike -- and myself! We will paint on the walls, decorating it for a new festival. Antiochus Day. We will take all the produce from this year's harvest and prepare it to be eaten. Then we will show you a real sacrifice -- roasting a pig on the steps of the Temple as the sun sets for your Sabbath. Israel will be no longer a country of the Jews, but my state. Glorious in its political power and rich in wealth, not piety.

Jew: Yahweh will never let you get away with this!

Antiochus: I see nobody here to stop me. Your Yahweh would need a powerful army to defeat me, but all I see are books and scholars. [turning aside] Tear down the alter, let Greece's reign begin!

Set B:

United States around 1900, urban/polluted setting (smokestacks in background, etc.)

Corporation: [points at self] I'm a person now! I'm a person just like you!

American: This is obscene! How can you [pointing at Corporation] be a person? I am a natural person. I have rights, under the bill of rights, meant for natural persons. Freedom of speech, freedom from search and seizure, protections from the government at federal and state level. Right to due process.

Corporation: [pompously] In 1886, the United States Supreme Court declared me an artificial person. I now have all the same rights you do! And I can live forever!

American: Absurd ruling! It was based on applying the 14th amendment to corporations. The 14th amendment was created to give legal standing and protections to African Americans, for the first time. And now you manipulate it to make you a person! Even a woman hasn't been given full rights yet! President Grover Cleveland said, "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."

Corporation: Well then, we'll have to have a more friendly president. Now that freedom of speech, political speech for me -- corporations -- is allowed, and freedom of political association for me -- corporations -- is allowed, I will bring the country a president.

American: You mean buy a president.

Corporation: Exactly. We will select McKinley. And I will buy your state houses too. All will be mine. I am equally entitled to it. You and me, we are equal now.

American: Equal? You control the printing presses. You control the factories. You control jobs, wages, working conditions. You control what goes into the food. You cause massive destruction of the environment and don't pay damages. The nation's wealth is becoming concentrated in the hands of some 200 of you fictitious persons while a hundred million natural people like me live in squalid existence.

Corporation: Why should I care? I have nothing to fear from you. Why don't you try to regulate me? Let's have regulations. I'll even help you make them.

American: Why would you want to do that?

Corporation: Well, you see, I can make regulations that are hard for small businesses, so little people like you can't compete with big people like me. And I can make sure the regulations don't inhibit progress and development of new products, good things which help bring us into the modern world and live better.

Narrator: And so society was turned upside down as the power of natural people over fictitious people was reduced to regulations, and many state laws were overturned and replaced with corporation-friendly laws. Corporations were described by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1916 as "The Frankenstein monster which states have created by their corporation laws."

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Narrator: So now we see there was more than a sacrifice of principles, there was a defiling of the very basic tenets deemed holy to Jews and American natural persons. But this became accepted by society. Many Jews and Americans liked what the Greeks and Corporations brought, or at least defended it, while some did not.

Scene 5: Acceptance by Society

Set A:

Israel under Greeks

Jew-1: Hey, this is great. Fires everywhere, dancing -- men with women.

Jew-2: What are you eating?

Jew-1: Pig. It is delicious. I have never had anything but lamb, and I must admit, pig tastes good.

Jew-2: You know it is an impure animal -- unkosher, unholy.

Jew-1: It's not so bad. A simple deviation. It isn't like I'm eating it with goat's milk.

Jew-2: And what are you wearing?

Jew-1: Can't you see? I'm not wearing anything. It's too hot for clothes. Do you see any of the Greeks wearing clothes now? I'm thinking of shaving my beard.

Jew-2: I don't believe it.

Jew-1: Listen. The Greeks are so worldly and knowledgeable. They've taught me about the importance of self-interest. How people all over the world are reading their books, learning their language. Why should we be the different ones?

Jew-2: Would you listen to yourself? This is what happens when you spend more time in the gymnasium than studying with the rabbi. You teach your children Greek and let them read their books. What about God?

Jew-1: What about God? I need to bring bread to my family just like my kids will to their family. If they know Greek and adopt Greek names, they will be able to do that -- work and take care of themselves.

Jew-2: That is a defeatist attitude. I have been talking with my friend Judah Maccabee and he has shown me the light. If we identify as Greeks, everything that we are -- as Israelites, as partners of God, as spiritual beings -- is lost. What we have is not old-fashioned, but pure and beautiful tradition. Judaism has worked for so many centuries -- it instills dignity in people by commanding thanks for what we are given, it provides joy by separating the holy from the profane. Hellenism instills only greed and provides a false morality which accentuates an individual 's desires over a community's needs.

Jew-1: What does all this have to do with the new festival?

Jew -2: The Greeks have made us slaves again -- this time in our own land.

Jew-1: Whatever. I feel as free as I ever have. [starts dancing off]

Set B:

United States today (suburbia)

American-1: Hey, this is so cool! MTV! Microwave oven! Nike Air Jordans!

American-2: What do you eat?

American-1: McDonalds! Yummy! and Mc...Hardees, they have a new big bacon and beef burger! And if I want something healthy, I buy low fat foods from Nabisco or Kraft.

American-2: Nabisco and Kraft are owned by tobacco companies, they kill people.

American-1: People can choose. People can choose not to smoke. But hey, I smoke low-tar cigarettes, not so risky, eh? [cough, hack]

American-2: And what do you wear?

American-1: I buy clothes at Lands End. Or Levis. Or JC Penney. Or Foot Locker.

American-2: How do you decide what style to wear?

American-1: Whatever's hip, the corporations tell me that through their cool advertisements and cool catalogs.

American-2: And how do you know what's going on in the world?

American-1: TV news. Easy and painless. You don't need to know nothin' else. Besides, who has time to worry about news? I work hard and just want to chill out and have a beer. My friends with kids don't even have time for that.

American-2: Who do you work for?

American-1: Corporations. They're kind to give me a job. You know, I'd be in big trouble if they decided to leave town.

American-2: And why are your friends so busy they can't chill out once in a while?

American-1: They have to spend so much time commuting in traffic jams, but that's o.k., they have such cool cars! And some have to work two jobs to afford daycare for the kids and health insurance. How about if you answer some of these questions yourself!

American-2: Well, I like to eat organically grown food and wear clothes not made with sweatshop and prison and child labor. I like to live near my work and in a community that provides all the services I need in walking or biking distance or near public transit. But my choices are limited, few, and expensive, because of how a few corporations have dominated production and planning. And I'd like my tax money to go to the poor. Did you know the government gives more tax money and tax breaks to corporations than the amount spent on poor people? The government even gives more per person in the form of tax breaks to middle and upper income people than all the benefits to poor people.

American-1: What does rich and poor people and welfare have to do with corporations?

American-2: Corporations fund politics, and the corporate barons are wealthy and out to protect their own interests.

American-1: Well, I still like all the toys and modern lifestyle corporations give me. It's the American way. To do away with corporations would be, like, un-American.

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Narrator: Some people liked the new society, even some people who suffered in it enthusiastically defended it. Now it was up to those with a vision back to an era of light, a vision to see through the darkest of times and into the future, to restore the purity that once was and could yet be. It was up to the keepers of the flame to make holy what was desecrated and enable Jews and natural persons to be free. They must struggle against great odds. So our story continues.

Scene 6: A Call to Action

Set A:

Maccabean revolt

Judah Maccabee: Enough is enough! The Greeks must be taken off of their thrones and the alters of God restored in the Temple! Let us beat our plowshares into swords and show Antiochus his final day.

Friend: But Judah, they are so powerful. They have bigger, better weapons. They have ships. They have taken over Syria and Egypt and everywhere else around us. How are we, commoners, and only a handful of all Hebrews, going to defeat such a powerful force?

Judah Maccabee: [growing increasingly passionate] This, my friend, is a battle of good versus evil -- freedom versus oppression. When Moses brought the Jews from slavery to the land of Canaan, he was facing incredible odds -- but they were overcome. Whenever the Jews have faced persecution , they have overcome it -- often against the fiercest of opponents. This is about the light of justice. Our ability to live the lives we want, to speak the language we want, to worship the God we believe in, to respect the world around us. Look at the Greeks running around in all their nakedness, defacing our holiest places -- turning our neighbors into slaves of foreign ideas and culture. Their "holiday" has gone unchecked for way too long, and if we ever want to see our freedom again we must act now!

Friend: Son of Matethias, I will fight with you!

Narrator: Off went the Maccabees, the Hasidim of Ancient Israel, the religious few who would not be persuaded by the Hellenistic trends of their time. Although they were small in number, they were rich in piety and truly believed in their cause. They fought deviously, using the hilly terrain to their advantage. They fought long and hard, and in the end, were victorious. [background cheers] The last of their battles was in Jerusalem, where they ended upon the steps of their temple.

Friend: [out of breath] Finally, we are able to enter our own Beit HaMikdash! [ walks forward, looks horrified]. What has happened?

Judah Maccabee: The Greeks have made of our holiest place an obscene sight. [looks around] At least, amidst all this trash and debauchery, the Menorah still remains, and with just enough oil to last for the night. The menorah has survived the conquest of the Greeks like Judaism has. We have been able to preserve what is dear to us -- age old customs and traditions which were challenged by forces we neither welcomed nor wanted. Our freedom to practice Judaism remains because we have taken matters into our own hands and fought for what is right. And though we have fought this evil in the name of theocracy, itself a fairly oppressive governance, it is our own governance. Rule of the Hebrews, by the Hebrews.

Narrator: The Maccabees actually were ruthless, both against the Greeks and against fellow Jews who had accepted Greek customs and way of life. They wished to create an enforced Jewish theocracy. We do not wish to glorify that -- we are celebrating that they had their vision of justice and fought for it and to win their freedom against oppression.

Set B:

United States today

American: Calling all people, calling all natural persons!! [points into the audience] -- Hey, are you a natural person? and you? come on up here and help me! We need to organize, to form unions, to form alliances, to win back power. This is a struggle for power. There's more of us than of them [points at corporation].

Corporation: You don't scare me. I have more money. Money equals power and you can't change my constitutional right that money equals free speech. And I have more people too, people who are afraid to challenge me because of what I can do to them, or who simply don't care. You can never challenge me.

American: We can buy local, support locally owned business. We can design our communities. We can support boycotts and push for campaign finance reform and join third parties and even revoke your charters.

Corporations: I dare you. You could but you won't. We control the ideas accepted by most people. Your ideas will only be accepted by a few. You will be the laughing stock. I can feel my big Rush of pro-corporate opinion now. [pause] And even now I am making preparations lest you should succeed. I now control forces all over the world. I control international trade organizations to which your government must bow down. I create international treaties which grant me greater powers. There is nothing you can do. I will live forever. Fictitious people rule the world. We will rule forever!

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Narrator: The Maccabees were outnumbered and outarmed in their struggle for freedom. They rang out a clarion call for all who believed in what was holy and sacred. Today we celebrate their miracle of victory with a festival of lights at the darkest time of year, the time around the new moon closest to the shortest days of the year. Without even the moon to guide us through the darkest recesses of civilization, we too must be maccabees in our own day, in the sense of looking ahead to a new future with the light of our knowledge and ideas, including old principles we still treasure and including knowledge of what once was, how it came to be, and how it was changed. We too have a great struggle. And we too live in the capital of where that struggle is taking place, in the great world exporter of corporatization of the planet. Our struggle also is for freedom. When we kindle the Chanukah candles, we should realize that each one of us can be a keeper of the flame, if we choose to be, and we can kindle that light in others. The Ner Tamid, the everlasting light, is not just oil burning in a flask in the temple, it is an everlasting light within each of us through the generations. Our Torah has laws prohibiting the massive accumulation of wealth and property that corporations have achieved. While we have not discussed Torah here today, the parallels between the story of Chanukah and the story of corporations are stunning. Perhaps the fight against corporate power run amok indeed has a Jewish tinge. However, there is a cautionary note -- we should not be intolerant in our approach as were the Maccabees, nor should we emulate their use of violence.
We hope that you found our program illuminating and inspiring.

We now would be happy to answer questions and entertain discussion. If you would like more information ... [have brochures for local organizations working for people power such as those protesting the World Trade Organization, sweatshop labor, etc., and those promoting citizen ballot initiative, and tikkun olam organizations, etc.; in Madison we had information and representatives from the Tikkun Olam group at Hillel and from Democracy Unlimited]

CORPORATIONS and CHANUKAH (skit, approx 25 minutes)

Concept by Stephen Jascourt
Narrator and Set B written by Stephen Jascourt.
Set A* written by Gabriel Bankier-Plotkin
*Includes narrator part inside set A in scene 1 and first narrator paragraph inside set A in scene 6. Does not include second narrator paragraph inside set A in scene 6.
Performed and videotaped at University of Wisconsin-Madison Hillel (1996?)

This light-hearted simple-minded yet informative play draws amazing parallels between the broad historical context leading up to the Maccabean revolution we celebrate as Chanukah today and the history and role of corporations in the structure of society and government in the United States.
The purpose of this play is to raise awareness of how the current state of society is both undesirable and a historical anomaly, and to stimulate discussion and action. The essence of Judaism is to create that which can be, instead of remaining stuck with that which is. We can use this play to open eyes about our present situation, examine how it came to be and what it came from, thus stimulating you to think about and act on how we can make things better.
You are free to copy, use, and change this play in part or in its entirety but not for profit. Credit must be given to the above authors for the concept and parts which are used, and changes or omissions must be identified and credited to those who created the changes. If you do make use of this, please drop me an email so I can follow how it is being used.

Set A refers to set on Jews and Greeks, Set B refers to set on corporations. Each set has dialog between two characters (not always the same two in each scene). Ideally, the two sets are always up (though not speaking) at the same time on different halves of the stage or room. The idea is to connote a parallel history between Set A and Set B within each scene. Additionally there is one narrator throughout.

Narrator: Once upon a time, there were peoples of many religions, namely Jews [background shouts: YEAH!! clapping, cheering] and pagans [background shouts: HEATHENS! hissing]. Once upon another time, there were many kinds of governments, namely rule by the people [background: USA! USA! USA!] and rule over the people [background: Long lived the king]. Let's see how each of these came to be, how they were, and the story of what happened to them.

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Scene 1: History

set A:

Biblical: Tormented history of Jews, receiving torah, going through desert, fighting many enemies, and eventually being able to practice and flourish uninhibited

Pharaoh: I am a ruler and slave holder, King of Egypt and master of the Jews. Let my people go? Never. Throw at me locusts and darkness and boils, turn my rivers into blood - your God is no match for the mighty Ra. Build me a pyramid and sleep in the dust. You will work when I say and eat what I give you. With my sword in hand, you will never be free to practice your religion.

Narrator [as burning bush]: You are a leader of a great and holy people, I am the God of your forefathers -- take your fellow Hebrews from bondage.

Moses: You're right, burning bush. We are the people of a rich ancestry, with a religion our children must be free to live and take pride in. Show me the way to Canaan, the land promised to my forefathers. This oppression must end.

Narrator [as burning bush]: So God imposed on Egypt the final plague, the smiting of the first born, and Pharaoh sent off the Jews. They ran from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea as the hands of God split the waters apart. Having changed his mind, Pharaoh set out after the Hebrews, but God took care of that as well, closing the sea upon Pharaoh and his soldiers. The Hebrews sang, and set on their way. It was the beginning of the faith God instilled in their hearts. Then the Hebrews struggled, through famine and internal strife, yet all these times God came to their rescue. Finally they reached Mt. Sinai. Moses ascended, got the tablets -- but took too long. The Golden Calf of materialism was erected by the Hebrews, fearing Moses would never return. Anger, yelling, broken tablets. Up again went Moses, this time bringing back a covenant, the commandments and Torah -- and the Hebrews were on their way. Monotheism was born and the Hebrews had made a covenant with God that they would always be free to practice their religion. A couple years later they were delivered to the border of Canaan.

Moses: It took generations enduring slavery and 40 years wandering the desert, but looking down on the land of milk and honey is a sight to behold. After Pharaoh was drowned in the sea, our God, Yahweh, led us to freedom -- both as a pillar of fire by night, guiding us on our path, and as a lawgiver and spiritual force, imparting to us the ways to a life of piety and fulfillment. God and I are in business together. I saw His back and we made a pact -- we will be God's people, following the mitzvot of Judaism, and God will make us strong, protecting and mentoring us. Home at last and free as Jews.

set B:

Colonial America

Corporation: [proudly holding British flag, wearing crown, well dressed] What am I? I am a royal corporation. I am chartered by the king, his royal highness.

American: [interrupts, pointing to butt] hindness

Corporation: I may be the East India Company. I collect taxes for the king. I may be the Hudson Bay company. I carry out the policies of the king in your land wherever you may be. I have been chartered to be a colony. The London Corporation, I am the Virginia Colony and carry out the royal will in the new world. Or the Plymouth charter, likewise. My charter allows, actually instructs, me to appoint your governors. My roots are deep in time, my kind has existed since the Roman times and the middle ages. My arms are long, and they reach for everything you own.

American: Who am I? I am a natural person. That's a legal term, it doesn't mean I'm a granola head, it means I'm just like you, a human being. I might be a farmer. I might be an artisan. I might be a businessman. I can do business just fine without a special corporate charter. I don't like this corporation. He is oppressive and takes away my natural rights. In the 17th century, now that's last century, philosopher Thomas Hobbes called corporations "worms in the body politic". Adam Smith in his book, The Wealth of Nations, feared corporations would restrain competition, creating monopolies and reducing my liberty. Thomas Paine

Corporation [interrupts]: ouch, pain

American: had some Common Sense to encourage rebellion against corporations and the king that props them up. Let's get rid of him! [points to corporation, fires a cannon ball, puff of smoke, American flag rises, Corporation's British flag falls, star spangled banner plays (a few seconds, enough for audience to recognize song)]

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Narrator: That history brings us up to the time our story begins. After many struggles, the Jews secured freedom to practice their religion and live as free people. It was made so and all was good. And after great travails, the Americans created a government for the people, to be ruled by the people. Unfortunately only white males were legally considered people, but it was a start, and we shall pretend, it was good.

Scene 2: Utopia

play utopia music at beginning of each set

Set A:

Ancient Israel at time of flourishing, say during King David's rule (for instance). Rabbi and student studying Torah.

Rabbi: ... da-bair el b'nay Yisrael lay-more, hamakreev et zevach shalamav l'adonay ... so that the poor may come and pick for themselves from the corners of your fields. You see, Avram, from the days of Cain and Abel, there has been for the Jews an obligation to do what is right. The first fruits of the season are always taken to the temple and sacrificed to God. Then from the rest of the crop a family should use for itself all but 10% of the fields.

Avram: And that is the tithe left for the poor to reap for themselves.

Rabbi: Exactly, God first, and our needs second. All ar fed and nothing is wasted. Now go home and prepare for the Sabbath. [Avram runs off.] Ah, the sweet feeling of Shabbat is in the air. The Hebrews -- the people of Jacob -- have finally made for themselves a great nation, where Rabbi and student can learn together from the teachings of God, where the first fruits of the season can be brought to the temple and burned in celebration of the change of the season and our covenant with Adonay. Alas, where Shabbat is a day of rest, uniting an entire community in prayer and rejoicing. The work of the week is hard -- tilling the fields and carrying produce to market on our backs. But doing it all in the presence of God makes it wonderful. To think that we were once slaves in the land of Egypt. Now, all is good.

Set B:

Early 1800s in United States
American dressed as master, corporation is chained or roped to American

American: Life is good. I am now in charge. I now elect my governors, my state representatives. My elected officials get to charter a corporation to do a specific task, like to build bridges or to be a bank.

Corporation: And I get special privileges, like raising funds through selling stock. And I am usually created to do something very big and important which the average businessperson doesn't have the means to do. That makes me swell with pride, and it means I don't have to worry too much about competition.

American: My state creates corporations and can kill them too. For any reason. If they cause harm, they are gone. Eliminated. If they owe debt, the stockholders must pay it. If they do more than their charter allows, gone. They are created for limited time, say 30years, after that, they have to reapply or -- gone. They cannot own stock in another corporation, no takeovers allowed. They cannot make even indirect political contributions. No messing with my government! Rule by people, not by corporations!

Corporation: I am not a person. I am just a legal fiction. I cannot even own real estate except that which is required to do my chartered duty. I'm not even allowed to set my own prices.

American: A private business can set its own prices, but the corporation is the creation of the state and cannot be trusted, it is too monopolistic. And all its records are open to inspection by public officials. No secrets! No price gouging! No tyranny! No more control of jobs! No more control of production! No more buying off the press! No more dominating the elections process! No more stacking the courts! All these things happened before! All will happen no more! Life is good!

--------------------------------------

Narrator: That's how it was. In principle and in spirit it was like moshiach and utopia. In reality, material life was hard. Changes were underway. Let's see what the changes looked like.

Scene 3: Introducing Progress

Set A:

Israel under influence of Greeks.
Greek soldier and Jew, who walks up holding Bible, carrying fruit on his back.

Greek: Hey, where are you going? No, let me guess. To temple to burn that fruit so that Yawah is happy and you lead a good life.

Jew: Yes, I am. [trying to walk by]

Greek: [holding him up] Not so fast. Do you really think that works? That book you're holding, the one with the commandments to go burn this fruit, when was it written? A couple hundred years ago? Don't you think anything has changed since then? Your book tells you to dress like that [long sleeves, head covered]? Well, it's hot outside. It's hot and you are carrying a bag of fruit -- you have a beard for God's sake! And that ugly language you speak. All those Chet, Kaf, Chaf, and Tza's. You think the gods are really pleased by your mumbling that gross mumbo-jumbo? That same old ugly language people have been speaking for hundreds and hundreds of years?

Jew: How dare you insult my religion and my God. Our religion, our way of life, is humane and compassionate -- it builds a community of people striving to lead virtuous lives, concerned with doing right and treating others as we treat ourselves. The steadfast tradition of the Jews is its strength! Not a weakness.

Greek: You Jews have it wrong. Concern for others? Study over play? It is time to move forward by enjoying yourself, testing the limits of your personal freedom. Community is out and self-interest is in. Don't burn that fruit for God -- sell it... or eat it yourself [grabs an apple out of Jew's basket and starts munching on it]. Our strength is giving people what they want -- better clothes, gymnasiums to swim in and play in, all the food they want and whatever they think tastes good. Our ideas are exciting and people all over the land are being shown our ways. Our philosophers are explaining nature. Ever heard of science? Why don't you come out of the cave -- quit looking at the shadows on the wall! We have built ships that can sail all over the world. International Olympic games. Who wants one God when he can have many? The future lies with Antiochus the King, Athena and Nike, not Yahweh, beards, and chhh [as in a long chet, not an english "ch"]. [walks away]

Jew: What has become of my peaceful Israel? My holy people? I fear that these Greeks are too powerful, and the word of God is being eclipsed.

Set B:

United States mid-late 1800s

Corporation [still roped or chained]: I bring new things to improve the standard of living. Railroads-- I created them. Mining for iron, coal to power the engines of progress, steel and manufacturing, and banking to make the economy go around. But I need to be unshackled and free to accomplish. [throws off rope or chain]. I will get the judges to get these people and their laws off my back. I need to be able to take private property for railroads and mines. Jury trials are bad for me, these people don't like me, so harm I do shall be assessed by judges rather than juries. Workers are responsible for causing their own injuries on the job. I do business across many states, so state laws don't affect me, only federal laws apply. Wage and hours laws created by states violate the rights of individual workers to negotiate for their own wages and working conditions, so even though I'll give them less, I want to keep more for myself, such laws applying to all workers are not valid. These are good changes, they help progress and industry.

American: So has ruled the judges. As Wisconsin governor Dodge said in 1839, "This history of corporations unequivocally demonstrates that men, in their corporate capacity, will do acts which they would not perpetrate as individuals."

Narrator: and the war for freeing the slaves came, the north against the south

Corporation: Now I'm needed by even the government itself to mobilize large shipments of food, clothing, etc. I shall skewer them to fill my pockets! I shall work with the government established by the people, I shall ally with them in their efforts to our mutual benefit.

American: But a handful of stalwart judges sounded warnings: "There is looming up a new and dark power...the enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economical conquest only, but for political power... For the first time really in our politics, money is taking the field as an organized power. It is unscrupulous, arrogant, and overbearing... The question will arise in your day, ...which shall rule -- wealth or man; which shall lead -- money or intellect; who shall fill public stations -- educated and patriotic freemen, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?" Thus spoke Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Ryan to the UW Law School class of 1873.

----------

Narrator: So we see pureness of principle was traded for progress, for new creations and new possibilities. The Greeks of their time and America in its time were leaders in technology, intellect, and aggregate economic growth. Ideals were compromised supposedly for the advancement of civilization and benefits to society. Now the story continues.

Scene 4: Defiling of Pureness

Set A:

Israel under Antiochus' rule. Antiochus on elevated chair, Jew below.

Antiochus: I am now your master and you will all be Greeks.

Jew: Never. We have made a covenant with God so that as long as we live by the mitzvot of God, Yahweh would be our protector and ruler. God has given me the tools to lead a free and holy life -- and nobody can take that away form me.

Antiochus: Wrong again, Jew. I have invaded your country and infused in it a new way of life more powerful and more appealing than your own. Who wants to wait for salvation when it is here before them? My army and the Syrian army have joined forces. They are smart enough to know when change is good -- and we will make sure that the Jewish religion is squashed.

Jew: No way. It can't happen. As it says in the Torah, "The Lord will reign forever and ever."

Antiochus: Well then, we will just have to find a new God. We will tear down the alters of your not-so-great Temple -- the dumpy building without any pillars -- and replace it with statues of Athena, Zeus, and Nike -- and myself! We will paint on the walls, decorating it for a new festival. Antiochus Day. We will take all the produce from this year's harvest and prepare it to be eaten. Then we will show you a real sacrifice -- roasting a pig on the steps of the Temple as the sun sets for your Sabbath. Israel will be no longer a country of the Jews, but my state. Glorious in its political power and rich in wealth, not piety.

Jew: Yahweh will never let you get away with this!

Antiochus: I see nobody here to stop me. Your Yahweh would need a powerful army to defeat me, but all I see are books and scholars. [turning aside] Tear down the alter, let Greece's reign begin!

Set B:

United States around 1900, urban/polluted setting (smokestacks in background, etc.)

Corporation: [points at self] I'm a person now! I'm a person just like you!

American: This is obscene! How can you [pointing at Corporation] be a person? I am a natural person. I have rights, under the bill of rights, meant for natural persons. Freedom of speech, freedom from search and seizure, protections from the government at federal and state level. Right to due process.

Corporation: [pompously] In 1886, the United States Supreme Court declared me an artificial person. I now have all the same rights you do! And I can live forever!

American: Absurd ruling! It was based on applying the 14th amendment to corporations. The 14th amendment was created to give legal standing and protections to African Americans, for the first time. And now you manipulate it to make you a person! Even a woman hasn't been given full rights yet! President Grover Cleveland said, "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."

Corporation: Well then, we'll have to have a more friendly president. Now that freedom of speech, political speech for me -- corporations -- is allowed, and freedom of political association for me -- corporations -- is allowed, I will bring the country a president.

American: You mean buy a president.

Corporation: Exactly. We will select McKinley. And I will buy your state houses too. All will be mine. I am equally entitled to it. You and me, we are equal now.

American: Equal? You control the printing presses. You control the factories. You control jobs, wages, working conditions. You control what goes into the food. You cause massive destruction of the environment and don't pay damages. The nation's wealth is becoming concentrated in the hands of some 200 of you fictitious persons while a hundred million natural people like me live in squalid existence.

Corporation: Why should I care? I have nothing to fear from you. Why don't you try to regulate me? Let's have regulations. I'll even help you make them.

American: Why would you want to do that?

Corporation: Well, you see, I can make regulations that are hard for small businesses, so little people like you can't compete with big people like me. And I can make sure the regulations don't inhibit progress and development of new products, good things which help bring us into the modern world and live better.

Narrator: And so society was turned upside down as the power of natural people over fictitious people was reduced to regulations, and many state laws were overturned and replaced with corporation-friendly laws. Corporations were described by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in 1916 as "The Frankenstein monster which states have created by their corporation laws."

-------------------

Narrator: So now we see there was more than a sacrifice of principles, there was a defiling of the very basic tenets deemed holy to Jews and American natural persons. But this became accepted by society. Many Jews and Americans liked what the Greeks and Corporations brought, or at least defended it, while some did not.

Scene 5: Acceptance by Society

Set A:

Israel under Greeks

Jew-1: Hey, this is great. Fires everywhere, dancing -- men with women.

Jew-2: What are you eating?

Jew-1: Pig. It is delicious. I have never had anything but lamb, and I must admit, pig tastes good.

Jew-2: You know it is an impure animal -- unkosher, unholy.

Jew-1: It's not so bad. A simple deviation. It isn't like I'm eating it with goat's milk.

Jew-2: And what are you wearing?

Jew-1: Can't you see? I'm not wearing anything. It's too hot for clothes. Do you see any of the Greeks wearing clothes now? I'm thinking of shaving my beard.

Jew-2: I don't believe it.

Jew-1: Listen. The Greeks are so worldly and knowledgeable. They've taught me about the importance of self-interest. How people all over the world are reading their books, learning their language. Why should we be the different ones?

Jew-2: Would you listen to yourself? This is what happens when you spend more time in the gymnasium than studying with the rabbi. You teach your children Greek and let them read their books. What about God?

Jew-1: What about God? I need to bring bread to my family just like my kids will to their family. If they know Greek and adopt Greek names, they will be able to do that -- work and take care of themselves.

Jew-2: That is a defeatist attitude. I have been talking with my friend Judah Maccabee and he has shown me the light. If we identify as Greeks, everything that we are -- as Israelites, as partners of God, as spiritual beings -- is lost. What we have is not old-fashioned, but pure and beautiful tradition. Judaism has worked for so many centuries -- it instills dignity in people by commanding thanks for what we are given, it provides joy by separating the holy from the profane. Hellenism instills only greed and provides a false morality which accentuates an individual 's desires over a community's needs.

Jew-1: What does all this have to do with the new festival?

Jew -2: The Greeks have made us slaves again -- this time in our own land.

Jew-1: Whatever. I feel as free as I ever have. [starts dancing off]

Set B:

United States today (suburbia)

American-1: Hey, this is so cool! MTV! Microwave oven! Nike Air Jordans!

American-2: What do you eat?

American-1: McDonalds! Yummy! and Mc...Hardees, they have a new big bacon and beef burger! And if I want something healthy, I buy low fat foods from Nabisco or Kraft.

American-2: Nabisco and Kraft are owned by tobacco companies, they kill people.

American-1: People can choose. People can choose not to smoke. But hey, I smoke low-tar cigarettes, not so risky, eh? [cough, hack]

American-2: And what do you wear?

American-1: I buy clothes at Lands End. Or Levis. Or JC Penney. Or Foot Locker.

American-2: How do you decide what style to wear?

American-1: Whatever's hip, the corporations tell me that through their cool advertisements and cool catalogs.

American-2: And how do you know what's going on in the world?

American-1: TV news. Easy and painless. You don't need to know nothin' else. Besides, who has time to worry about news? I work hard and just want to chill out and have a beer. My friends with kids don't even have time for that.

American-2: Who do you work for?

American-1: Corporations. They're kind to give me a job. You know, I'd be in big trouble if they decided to leave town.

American-2: And why are your friends so busy they can't chill out once in a while?

American-1: They have to spend so much time commuting in traffic jams, but that's o.k., they have such cool cars! And some have to work two jobs to afford daycare for the kids and health insurance. How about if you answer some of these questions yourself!

American-2: Well, I like to eat organically grown food and wear clothes not made with sweatshop and prison and child labor. I like to live near my work and in a community that provides all the services I need in walking or biking distance or near public transit. But my choices are limited, few, and expensive, because of how a few corporations have dominated production and planning. And I'd like my tax money to go to the poor. Did you know the government gives more tax money and tax breaks to corporations than the amount spent on poor people? The government even gives more per person in the form of tax breaks to middle and upper income people than all the benefits to poor people.

American-1: What does rich and poor people and welfare have to do with corporations?

American-2: Corporations fund politics, and the corporate barons are wealthy and out to protect their own interests.

American-1: Well, I still like all the toys and modern lifestyle corporations give me. It's the American way. To do away with corporations would be, like, un-American.

---------------

Narrator: Some people liked the new society, even some people who suffered in it enthusiastically defended it. Now it was up to those with a vision back to an era of light, a vision to see through the darkest of times and into the future, to restore the purity that once was and could yet be. It was up to the keepers of the flame to make holy what was desecrated and enable Jews and natural persons to be free. They must struggle against great odds. So our story continues.

Scene 6: A Call to Action

Set A:

Maccabean revolt

Judah Maccabee: Enough is enough! The Greeks must be taken off of their thrones and the alters of God restored in the Temple! Let us beat our plowshares into swords and show Antiochus his final day.

Friend: But Judah, they are so powerful. They have bigger, better weapons. They have ships. They have taken over Syria and Egypt and everywhere else around us. How are we, commoners, and only a handful of all Hebrews, going to defeat such a powerful force?

Judah Maccabee: [growing increasingly passionate] This, my friend, is a battle of good versus evil -- freedom versus oppression. When Moses brought the Jews from slavery to the land of Canaan, he was facing incredible odds -- but they were overcome. Whenever the Jews have faced persecution , they have overcome it -- often against the fiercest of opponents. This is about the light of justice. Our ability to live the lives we want, to speak the language we want, to worship the God we believe in, to respect the world around us. Look at the Greeks running around in all their nakedness, defacing our holiest places -- turning our neighbors into slaves of foreign ideas and culture. Their "holiday" has gone unchecked for way too long, and if we ever want to see our freedom again we must act now!

Friend: Son of Matethias, I will fight with you!

Narrator: Off went the Maccabees, the Hasidim of Ancient Israel, the religious few who would not be persuaded by the Hellenistic trends of their time. Although they were small in number, they were rich in piety and truly believed in their cause. They fought deviously, using the hilly terrain to their advantage. They fought long and hard, and in the end, were victorious. [background cheers] The last of their battles was in Jerusalem, where they ended upon the steps of their temple.

Friend: [out of breath] Finally, we are able to enter our own Beit HaMikdash! [ walks forward, looks horrified]. What has happened?

Judah Maccabee: The Greeks have made of our holiest place an obscene sight. [looks around] At least, amidst all this trash and debauchery, the Menorah still remains, and with just enough oil to last for the night. The menorah has survived the conquest of the Greeks like Judaism has. We have been able to preserve what is dear to us -- age old customs and traditions which were challenged by forces we neither welcomed nor wanted. Our freedom to practice Judaism remains because we have taken matters into our own hands and fought for what is right. And though we have fought this evil in the name of theocracy, itself a fairly oppressive governance, it is our own governance. Rule of the Hebrews, by the Hebrews.

Narrator: The Maccabees actually were ruthless, both against the Greeks and against fellow Jews who had accepted Greek customs and way of life. They wished to create an enforced Jewish theocracy. We do not wish to glorify that -- we are celebrating that they had their vision of justice and fought for it and to win their freedom against oppression.

Set B:

United States today

American: Calling all people, calling all natural persons!! [points into the audience] -- Hey, are you a natural person? and you? come on up here and help me! We need to organize, to form unions, to form alliances, to win back power. This is a struggle for power. There's more of us than of them [points at corporation].

Corporation: You don't scare me. I have more money. Money equals power and you can't change my constitutional right that money equals free speech. And I have more people too, people who are afraid to challenge me because of what I can do to them, or who simply don't care. You can never challenge me.

American: We can buy local, support locally owned business. We can design our communities. We can support boycotts and push for campaign finance reform and join third parties and even revoke your charters.

Corporations: I dare you. You could but you won't. We control the ideas accepted by most people. Your ideas will only be accepted by a few. You will be the laughing stock. I can feel my big Rush of pro-corporate opinion now. [pause] And even now I am making preparations lest you should succeed. I now control forces all over the world. I control international trade organizations to which your government must bow down. I create international treaties which grant me greater powers. There is nothing you can do. I will live forever. Fictitious people rule the world. We will rule forever!

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Narrator: The Maccabees were outnumbered and outarmed in their struggle for freedom. They rang out a clarion call for all who believed in what was holy and sacred. Today we celebrate their miracle of victory with a festival of lights at the darkest time of year, the time around the new moon closest to the shortest days of the year. Without even the moon to guide us through the darkest recesses of civilization, we too must be maccabees in our own day, in the sense of looking ahead to a new future with the light of our knowledge and ideas, including old principles we still treasure and including knowledge of what once was, how it came to be, and how it was changed. We too have a great struggle. And we too live in the capital of where that struggle is taking place, in the great world exporter of corporatization of the planet. Our struggle also is for freedom. When we kindle the Chanukah candles, we should realize that each one of us can be a keeper of the flame, if we choose to be, and we can kindle that light in others. The Ner Tamid, the everlasting light, is not just oil burning in a flask in the temple, it is an everlasting light within each of us through the generations. Our Torah has laws prohibiting the massive accumulation of wealth and property that corporations have achieved. While we have not discussed Torah here today, the parallels between the story of Chanukah and the story of corporations are stunning. Perhaps the fight against corporate power run amok indeed has a Jewish tinge. However, there is a cautionary note -- we should not be intolerant in our approach as were the Maccabees, nor should we emulate their use of violence.
We hope that you found our program illuminating and inspiring.

We now would be happy to answer questions and entertain discussion. If you would like more information ... [have brochures for local organizations working for people power such as those protesting the World Trade Organization, sweatshop labor, etc., and those promoting citizen ballot initiative, and tikkun olam organizations, etc.; in Madison we had information and representatives from the Tikkun Olam group at Hillel and from Democracy Unlimited]



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