Posts Tagged ‘The true meaning of Hanukkah.’


Ocean Grove menorah. The eighth night of Hanukkah.   December 23, 2014. By Paul and Eileen Goldfinger. ©

Ocean Grove menorah. The eighth night of Hanukkah.  Image by Paul and Eileen Goldfinger. ©  The happy couple are Eileen’s parents–American born in Brooklyn, NY.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Today, Nov 28, is the first night of Hanukkah when the first candle is lit.  Here is my brief version of the real meaning of Hanukkah. It is not the Jewish Christmas, nor is it primarily about a miracle of the oil , nor does the name “Festival of Lights” accurately describe the point of it all either.

To understand what Hanukkah is really about, you need to focus on a brief moment in history. The year was 168 B.C. The Greek Seleucid empire ruled in Syria, while the Egyptians ruled in the Holy Land. The Greeks drove out the Egyptians and introduced a Hellenistic life style to the region.

Jews had lived in the Holy Land since the time of David, and much of the time they were able to practice their religion, but the Greeks wanted to ban the Jewish religious customs and convert everyone to a Greek way of life.

A rebellion occurred led by a Jewish guerrilla army called the Maccabees (means “hammer”.) A three year war ensued, and the Jewish fighters won back their religion and the rule over their country.

Fast forward to the late 19th century in Europe where oppressed diaspora Jews decided to press for their greatest wish—-a return as pioneers to Israel. This Zionist movement drew inspiration from the Maccabees and they trained while in Europe to become fighters.  When the early Zionists made their way back to Israel, they worked the fields with hoes in their hands and rifles on their backs.

In 1948, when the State of Israel was restored, the new Israeli armed forces beat the odds and defeated the invading Arab armies. They were inspired not only by the Maccabees but by the horrors of the Holocaust including the courageous defense of the Warsaw Ghetto, and they swore, “Never again!”  They would become a formidable defensive force. To this day they are called the IDF—Israel Defense Force.

IDF women. Internet photo

IDF women. Internet photo

So Hanukkah is about having the will to fight for religious and national freedom. And that Hanukkah spirit is at play again today as the Israelis face an existential threat in the Middle East.

Hanukkah is  a minor Jewish holiday, but, putting aside the candles, the gifts, the dreidels (spinning tops,) and the latkes (potato holiday pancakes,) there is a heart and soul to the holiday which is about freedom through strength, faith, and courage.

KENNY ELLIS:  Ocho Kandelikas  (8 candles)

And, something more contemporary:    MATISYAHU

Matisyahu. Internet photo.

Matisyahu. Internet photo.



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