21 December 2011

Happy Hanukkah

Detail from the Arch of Titus in Rome, which was built to commemorate the sacking of Jerusalem.
Last night marked the first night of Hanukkah and to all of the members of the tribe I know (and those I don't) I want to wish you a joyful Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration that dates to the year 165 BCE. Sources vary but the traditional view of the festival is what follows. In 167 BCE, Antiochus who was the ruler of the Selucid Empire sacked Jerusalem and outlawed Judaisim. Further, he ordered the installation of a statue of Zeus in the Temple. The Selucid Empire was a Greek/ Macedonian Empire made up from the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. Antiochus' actions provoked a rebellion.

A Jewish priest named Mattityahu and his five sons, Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan and Judah led the revolt. Judah came to be known as Yehuda YaMakabi, or Judah the Hammer. By the year 166 Mattityahu had died and Judah became the leader of the revolt. By 165 the revolt was successful and the Selucid Empire was beaten back. The Temple was reclaimed and rededicated. Judah ordered that the Temple be cleansed, that a new altar be built and that all of the vessels be remade.

According to the Talmud, the Temple Menorah needed to be fueled by olive oil and further, the Menorah had to burn through every night. However, there was only enough oil for one night and making more oil was an eight-day process. Miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days.

So now you know. Please join me in extending warm Hanukkah greetings to everyone who's celebrating for the next week.

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