Tonight is the first night of the Jewish holiday Chanukkah (or Hanukkah). Dovid and I aren’t going to be lighting a menorah on the boat for this Festival of Lights, but I wanted to express some kind of aspect of the holiday so I am writing this as much for myself as for anyone else who reads this.
If you’ve been reading this blog, then you know that I’m not the Jewish one. Even so, I am interested in other cultures (as this whole Endeavor is a testament to). Dovid observed Chanukkah more devoutly when he was a practicing orthodox, but now he is more low key about things. SO… with his permission I am posting my non-Jewish perspective of the holiday on this first night of the celebration.
From what I can see as an outsider, Chanukkah hasn’t been as distorted as Christmas has, but there definitely seems to be a watering down over the centuries that can be seen in the cutsie videos made by Jewish performers like Eric Schwartz and Six13 (who happens to be modern orthodox). The gist of what I understand of the holiday is the menorah represents a miracle of oil lamps lasting eight nights on only one nights worth of oil. Later I learned that it was about a revolt by a group of Jews who rededicated the temple.
Like all things historical – and especially religious – there are many details that are lost to the ages. Most of the information that has been collected seems to be from hundreds of years after the event. The following is from the Wikipedia article on Hanukkah:
The Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus narrates in his book, Jewish Antiquities XII, how the victorious Judas Maccabeus ordered lavish yearly eight-day festivities after rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem that had been profaned by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Josephus does not say the festival was called Hanukkah but rather the “Festival of Lights”:
- “Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival. Judas also rebuilt the walls round about the city, and reared towers of great height against the incursions of enemies, and set guards therein. He also fortified the city Bethsura, that it might serve as a citadel against any distresses that might come from our enemies.”
There is a lot more to this centuries old holiday but I think this is a good introduction. If you do celebrate Chanukkah, I wish you a wonderful and blessed week.
Thanks so much for reading!