The Miracle of Chanukah!


The story of Chanukah begins in the reign of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt and Judea, but allowed the people under his control to continue observing their own religious traditions Many Jews assimilated there and became a part of the Hellenistic culture.

More than a century later, a successor to Alexander, names Antiochus IV began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest over their Temple, and he prohibited the practice of the Jewish religion, killing anyone who did so, and desecrated their Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs on the holy altar.

Two groups opposed Antiochus: one was led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee, and a second religious group known as the Chasidim: not related to the modern Chasidic movement, they were forerunners of the Pharisees . These joined forces and their revolution was successful and the Temple was rededicated.

According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication there was very little ritually pure oil left for the menorah, the candelabrum, in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, and it took 8 days to get the oil needed to replenish their supply. Yet miraculously, the small amount of oil burned for the entire eight days. Thus an eight day annual festival was declared to commemorate this miracle. It should be mentioned that the holiday of Chanukah commemorates the miracle of the oil, and not their military victory: Jewish people do not glorify war.

The menorah is lit one candle each night to commemorate this miracle. Potato Latkes are served with sour cream and apple sauce, and other fried foods are enjoyed remembering the miracle of the oil, and presents are exchanged. It is a happy holiday indeed!

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