Should the swastika get cancelled?

Swastikas are a historic symbol for various Eastern religions, and a popular holiday decoration around Diwali. (Photo by नीरज कुमार सिंह ददरी/Wikimedia Commons)

Once upon a time, the swastika had no correlation to hate. It is, in fact, a millennia-old symbol of well-being and hope. It has been used—and continues to be used—by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and many other Eastern religions as a sacred symbol in homes and temples. After its image to Western eyes became tarnished in the 20th century, its origins have fallen wayside—but a recent push to keep its original meaning intact aims to change that. To discuss the shift, Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, a Buddhist priest and the author of The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler’s Cross: Rescuing a Symbol of Peace from the Forces of Hate, joins Bonjour Chai to discuss the critical differences between the original swastika and what’s been dubbed “Hitler’s cross”.

And on the topic of symbolism, we look at Hanukkah merch: mugs with phrases like “Joy Vey”, greeting cards joking “Fa La La La Latke”, dreidel-shaped waffle irons and more. Where did this stuff come from? Who buys it? Rabbi Yael Buechler and writer David Zvi Kalman join to dissect whether the trend is a symptom of late-stage capitalism or a stab at religious equity.

Plus, we give a nachas shout-out to graffiti artist @aperism and bid farewell—and good luck—to longtime hosts David and Ilana, who are embarking on a new podcast adventure in the new year.


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.