Posts Tagged ‘Chanukka’

When I was in University a friend asked me if it was true that Jews created Chanukka because they were jealous of Christmas.  Yup, was my reply, 500(ish) years before the first Christmas we Jews knew that Christ was going to be born and the Christians, (who didn’t exist yet) were going to make a huge deal out of his birthday. Right there and then we decided that we were going to compete with that future holiday and have our own eight-day festival of light! We even created Chanukka Harry who would visit the kids and give them gifts of chocolate coins and the really good Jewish kids often got socks! To push it over the top we would play games with a dreidel.  Talk about raising the roof!

Living where I do I realize there is a lot of people who don’t really know the story of Chanukka.  Some of you may find this surprising, (others, not so much)  but I don’t know a lot about the holiday myself.  But, as a good Jew I have decided to take what little knowledge I have and fill you, my readers, with the story of Channuka…so put on your yarmulke.

Antiochus, (which rhymes with tuchas) IV Epiphanes, the King of Syria desecrated King Solomon’s temple.  Naturally this upset us Jews.  Truth be told Antituchas didn’t desecrate Solomon’s temple.  Antituchas desecrated the replacement temple built by Cyrus the Great.  Solomon’s temple was destroyed years earlier by the Babylonians but that story is for another time.  Cyrus did a great job and the Temple was dedicated in 515 BC. (see?  I know stuff). In modern times (20BC) Harod the Great renovated Cyrus’s via Solomon’s temple.  Word is the temple developed a nasty leak, in any case Harod did such a good job the temple became known as Harod’s temple.  I often never wonder what King Solomon thought about all the transformations, but alas, we have wandered off topic.

Where were we? Oh yes.  Antituchas desecrated Cryus’s temple which seriously pissed off the Maccabees.  Everyone knows you don’t piss of a Maccabee, after all they were a fearsome rebel army who took back and ruled Judea.  They founded the Hasmonean Dynasty, reasserting the Jewish religion and ruled from 164 to 63BC. 

Sorry I keep getting side-tracked.

So, Channuka is the rededication of this ‘second’ temple, the problem is that the Maccabees ran out of Olive oil.  Their wives must have been very upset.  I know my wife gets upset with me when I use the last of the evoo (extra virgin olive oil for you non-followers of Rachel Ray) and don’t let her know.  And I can only imagine how upset Rachel Ray gets.  Oy Vey!

I’m thinking the grocery stores didn’t have any evoo on hand because this shortage created more problems than one would think possible.   However all was not lost because we are, ‘The Chosen People’ and although there was only enough olive oil to keep the eternal flame alight for one night a miracle transpired and the oil burned for eight, yes count them eight days!  As it happens, eight days is the exact time that was needed to consecrate more oil!  And that my friends was how the festival of light began. 

Personally I like to take a moment or two each Chanukka to remember what it means to be a Jew.  You see there is another story linked to Chanukka.  The story of Hannah and her seven sons.  Hannah was a serious Jew, not Jew-ish like me.  It is because of people like Hannah and her sons that make the Jews the sturdy proud people that they/we are:

Shortly before the revolt of the Maccabees,  Antituchas arrested Hannah and her seven sons and tried to make them eat pork.  Being good Jews and putting their faith in the Lord they refused to eat the pork.  Jews don’t eat Pork, not even bacon!  Hannah watched as her sons were brutally tortured and eventually killed all because they took a stand to protect their beliefs.  They refused to give up all that they were just because another wanted them too.  It is for them that I put on my yarmulke.

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