Holiday – Jewish


“Hanukkah, aka the Festival of Lights, celebrates yet another event the Jews escaped out of. The Romans had taken over the city where all the Jews were living in Israel. This is where the holy temple was where the western wall still remains today. So, the Romans come in and don’t let the Jews practice their religion, say any of their prayers, or read the Torah. These practices were essential to the Jews so they performed them in secret. So, a few of them got caught and were severely punished. Then the Maccabees, which were twelve kids, led by Judah, fought back against the Romans and defeated them. The true miracle of the story though was that after the battle, when they went to go pray in the synagogue, there was only a small amount of oil to keep the Holy Candle burning. The candle was supposed to be lit at all times so this little canister should have lasted only a day but instead, lasted eight days until new oil arrived. That is why there are eight days of Hanukkah and eight candles on the Menorah, to celebrate the miracle of the Holy Candle.”

Matt said he learned this story all throughout his childhood from his parents, the synagogue, and Hebrew school. Therefore, the story of the Maccabees and their miraculous oil has been passed down several generations in oral form. He said that all Jews know this story for they all celebrate Hanukkah as a holiday. He said that although it used to be different, Hanukkah has adopted some modern ideas such as presents. In ancient times, they did not used to celebrate Hanukkah by passing out presents to people. Now, however, they receive a present on each of the eight days as they light a new candle on the menorah.

Matt said that Hanukkah, like all other Jewish holidays, follows the lunar calendar. Therefore, the time it takes place varies from year to year. He said that most of the time, the Jewish religion celebrates Hanukkah from late November to mid-December. During this time, they receive presents just as Christians do, yet they celebrate something completely different. Matt likes Hanukkah because it is a good time to spend with family and other Jewish friends.            When I asked Matt what Hanukkah meant to him, he told me that it represented his culture. Matt is very proud of his ancestors for fighting the Romans in order to preserve their religion. He is even more amazed by the remarkable miracle of the oil burning for eight long days. He said that Hanukkah brings him closer to his family as they all go to the synagogue to remember the events that happened thousands of years ago. He also said that he enjoyed the Christianization of the holiday in the sense of presents. He said that children in Israel do not receive presents for Hanukkah but children in America do to compete with Christmas. With all the Christian children getting presents, some of the Jewish children got jealous. In order to make their children happy, Jewish parents opened up to the idea of presents so that their children can enjoy them as well.

I agree with Matt that this story is truly remarkable. For a small canister of oil to last seven days more than it typically would, it shows just how miracles can happen. Also, I think this celebration is a time for the Jewish religion to connect with each other. By lighting candles to celebrate the days the oil lasted, the Jews are showing their respect for those that fought the Romans. Hanukkah represents the Jewish religion well because it shows what they believe in. Additionally, I think that Hanukkah has changed since it first became a holiday. The Jewish religion has taken on a Christian approach with the presents but it has still maintained its traditions and morals.