While many think of Chanukah as a children’s holiday, the truth is that it is anything but that. Chanukah is our festival commemorating our historic struggle for religious freedom.
It was in the year 168 B.C.E. When Antiochus, the ruler of Syria, sought to impose Hellenism upon all of his subjects, including the people of Israel. He and his army captured Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and turned it into a temple dedicated to the Greek god, Zeus. So began a three-year struggle where a small band of courageous rebels, known as the Maccabees, sought to restore Judaism as the religion of the land. Finally, they were victorious as they recaptured the Temple, cleansed it, and rededicated it as the holiest site for Jewish worship.
In truth, Chanukah is a so-called “minor” Jewish holiday, but one that reminds us of some timeless and universal messages:
*Chanukah is about facing the challenges of life with courage.
*It’s about standing up for your ideals in spite of what others may be doing or saying.
*It’s about believing that the few really can make a difference in affecting worthy change.
*Chanukah is about pride in one’s heritage and commitment to its worthy and humane values.
*And perhaps most of all, Chanukah is about lighting flames of hope that we can yet dispel the many forms of darkness that exist in our world.
I wish you a Happy Chanukah as these sacred flames bring light and Jewish affirmation into our homes.
Rabbi David Greenberg