Hanukkah


Begins at sundown on December 24th. 

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the great Temple in Jerusalem, in around 164 BCE.  In fact, the Hebrew word Hanukkah actually means "dedication."  

The story goes like this...

In the year 167 BCE, Antiochus IV, one of the rulers of the Greek empire (which included Syria and Israel), banned circumcision, Torah study, and observance of Jewish holidays and festivals and introduced pagan worship into the Temple in Jerusalem.  Mattathias, a priest in the small town of Modiin, refused an order to worship idols (and make false sacrifices).  He fled from Jerusalem, went into hiding, and from there planned a guerrilla rebellion that after three years led to the defeat of the Greeks and the rededication of the Temple in an eight day celebration.  According to the Talmud, it was at this time that a single undefiled flask of olive oil was found for lighting the Temple candelabrum (menorah).  Miraculously, the oil, sufficient for only one day, burned for eight.

Since that time, Hanukkah has come to be a celebration of Jewish pride and Jewish identity.  Jewish people light a Hanukkah Menora or a Hannukia on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah and place it nearby or on a window sill so that all can see the burning lights.  Each night an additional candle is added.  By the eight night there are eighth candles burning together, shining light to the community and announcing that Hanukkah is here.