Jewish Holidays - Chanukah
Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day holiday also referred to as "festival of lights," celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and foods.
The Hebrew word Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah) means "dedication," and is thus named because it celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple.
What Chanukah Commemorates
In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the Jewish people to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of Mitzvah observance and belief in one G‑d.
|Against all odds, a small group of faithful Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies in the world, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G‑d.
When they sought to light the Temple's Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single jar of olive oil that had not got contaminated by the Greeks. Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.
To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the Jewish sages instituted the festival of Chanukah.