The eight-day observance of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, gets underway this Thursday, December 10, and will culminate next Friday, December 18.
In summary, Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees — a group of fierce warriors who used guerilla tactics against an occupying army — in 166 BCE when the Maccabees liberated the Jewish people from the Greek-based rulers who essentially had outlawed the Jewish religion.
When the triumphant Maccabees captured the city of Jerusalem, they quickly entered the Holy Temple, tossing out the images of the Greek gods that had been installed there by the occupying rulers.
When the Maccabees went to light the Menorah candles in the Temple, they thought they only had one day’s worth of oil. However, the lights remained lit for eight days — hence the miracle of the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah is a joyous occasion for Jews world-wide, marked by large gatherings of friends and families and the playing of traditional games such as the dreidel and eating traditional foods such as latkes.
Although Hanukkah celebrations this year will be much more subdued than is typical because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wish all of our Jewish friends a happy, healthy, and meaningful Hanukkah in 2020.