Today is the last day of Hanukkah, which is one of the most popular holidays among Jews around the world. This might be due to its warm atmosphere during the long winter nights, the unity of family and community, or its familiar customs (menorah, dreidels, potato pancakes (latkes)). However, we have to remember what this holiday actually means.
Hanukkah is the last holiday added to the Jewish calendar. At the year 164 BC, after three years of war against the Greeks, the holiday was set by the Maccabees to perpetuate the oil jug miracle. The oil jug miracle happened after the Greeks entered the Holy Jewish Temple intentionally violating it, by placing unholy animals (such as a pig) and idol sculptures in the holiest of sections, and by defiling the sealed oil jugs.
This brutal violation was the climax of a very long process, in which the Greeks did everything in their might to destroy the Jewish heritage from it’s core. While they did not attempt to destroy the Jewish people, their decrees preached against the Jewish religion as a lifestyle, concerning bible study and other Jewish family purity laws, and banning circumcision.
Over time we can differentiate between two kinds of anti-Semitism. One aimed to fight against Jewish identity, as we can see through the story of Hanukkah or during the crusade era. The Greeks demanded a change of identity and lauded assimilation.
The second kind was reflected through the story of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which determined that the “Jewish flaw” is incurable, and called for complete eradication of the Jewish people. much like the Holocaust.
All in all, the Jewish people throughout history have known not to bend to the temporary circumstances, succeeding heroically to preserve the Jewish customs over the generations. The answer was, and will always be: to add more light to the world and to look at the bright side.
Image: Google images
By: Roni Zedek