I had planned on writing a hopefully humorous column about how Chanukah is the Rodney Dangerfield of holidays. (Compared to Christmas, it gets no respect.) My title was, “Chanukah in Santa Monica,” which I stole from the musical parody of the same name by Tom Lehrer, recorded in the 1950’s.

Lehrer was born in 1928 to a Jewish family in New York City. He was a piano prodigy, entered Harvard at 15 and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He taught at M.I.T., Harvard, Wellesley and U.C. Santa Cruz. 

But Lehrer’s life as a math professor was overshadowed by spectacular success as a satirist, songwriter and performer. And yet he abruptly walked away.

Some say it was because the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger in 1973. Lehrer did comment that “Awarding the prize to Kissinger made political satire obsolete.”

Lehrer is 87 and living in Cambridge, Mass. In fact, I left him a voicemail but he hasn’t yet returned my call. I’ve got my fingers crossed. (Which might explain any typos.)

There’s only three days left of Chanukah. One problem for me is never quite knowing when the holiday was going to occur. This year it began on Dec. 6 and ends on the 14th.  In 2016, it begins the day before Christmas and ends Jan. 1. Is that any way to run a holiday? Meshugenah.

Admittedly, I’m not the most observant Jew. However, my Bar Mitzvah was on TV and here’s a column about it. (http://www.smdp.com/lights-camera-uncle-benny/76838)  Having one’s Bar Mitzvah on TV should count for something, right? (Other than therapy.)

I don’t know why Chanukah, or Hanukkah has the two spellings. I’m just happy if I spell either one right.

As kids it was tough for Chanukah to compete with Christmas. We used to boast that “For eight nights we get a present each night!” Between you and me, the presents weren’t exactly eye-popping. (Unless you count a school notebook eye-popping.)

And of course, we had the dreidel, a four-sided spinning top that we spun with great delight. For about 10 minutes. After that, to quote the late B.B. King, “The thrill was gone.”

The Cliff Notes of Chanukah, best as I can recall, is that it honors the heroism of Judah Maccabee. (Whose last name, to me, actually sounds Irish.)  In 164 B.C.E., Jerusalem was recaptured by the Maccabees, defeating the Syrian army of King Antiochus, and the temple needed to be purified. 

But there was only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. And yet, miraculously, it lasted eight days and eight nights, signifying to the Jews that God was with them. (Or get stock in that oil.) 

Here’s the “Chanukah-Christmas” scorecard: They’ve got Santa Claus, reindeer, elves, Christmas trees and Bing Crosby. We’ve got potato latkes.

But, before I could finish my column, Donald Trump announced his latest insane “policy position” with the world. Applying a religious test that’s clearly unconstitutional, (as if that ever bothers him) Trump called for temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the United States.

And yet his poll numbers went up and the controversy seemingly dwarfs all other subjects.  I wish there were T.A. (Trump Anonymous) meetings so I could find a way to ignore him.

Of some comfort is that Trump’s comments were met with worldwide condemnation. In less than 48 hours, 240,000 Brits signed a petition to ban Trump from the UK. Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, said sarcastically, “The only reason I wouldn’t go to New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”

Washington Post opinion writer, Dana Milbank calls Trump “America’s modern Mussolini.” Former Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge says Trump’s views play perfectly into ISIS’ narrative, adding “Trump belittles, demeans and ridicules people who disagree with him. I’ve never thought that loud, obnoxious and simpleminded are qualities we want in a president.”

Senator Lindsey Graham said, “You know how to make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.” Yikes.

Trump’s obsession with winning everything and getting even for the most minor of slights, fuels his innate mean-spiritedness. On Wednesday, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was named Time’s “Person of the Year.” Clearly jealous, Trump tweeted, “She’s ruining Germany.”  Poor Donald. (Actually, poor us, we’ve got to listen to him.)

Despite reader criticism, I’ve predicted Trump won’t get the GOP nomination.  Frankly, I’m’ not sure he really wants it. (Dictator, yes, but being president involves way too much work.) Besides, Trump spends 90 minutes each morning coiffing his hair. Where would he find time to be president?

So, for three more days, Happy Chanukah everyone. Christmas, we’ll get to next week. Kwanzaa (and Festivus?) maybe the week after. Assuming, that is, Trump doesn’t come up with any more of his policy positions. Poor Donald. Actually, poor us.

To hear Tom Lehrer, Google “Hanukkah in Santa Monica.”  Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and jnsmdp@aol.com.