Thanks to the NAM’s Marissa Gandelman for this on Hanukah:
Ah, it’s that time of year again. Kids dust off their dreidels, the menorah gets one last de-waxing, the elusive latke makes its annual appearance on the dinner table and families around the world prepare for Hanukah.
I’m not a religious person, but I do celebrate Hanukah. Not for the presents (those stopped coming years ago), but for the memories. Hanukah commemorates how the Jews fought against their oppressors and won. And, like every other Jewish holiday, we celebrated it as a family.
A little history on the holiday: In 165 B.C.E., Palestine was under Syrian power, and the Syrian emperor decreed that the Temple in Jerusalem, the national house of Jewish worship, would become a temple to the Greek god, Zeus.
A small band of soldiers led by Judah Maccabee staged a successful rebellion against the Syrians and rededicated the Temple. Hanukkah celebrates the restoration of religious freedom and the preservation of Jewish customs, as well as the traditional Jewish worship service.
While not a particularly important religious holiday, Hanukah is a time for celebration. The “Festival of Lights” refers to the miracle that occurred during the rededication of the Temple. When the Jews sought to rekindle the menorah in the Temple sanctuary, they found only enough purified oil to last one day, yet miraculously, the small portion of oil burned for eight days — the length of time required to purify new oil.
Peace and goodwill take on deeper meaning this time of year, so take some time to reflect on the spiritual and historical significance of the holiday season — and spread the love. Chag Sameach!
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