Every year between the end of November and the end of December, Jewish people around the world celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, The Festival of Lights. Chanukah begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, but the starting date on the western Calendar varies from year to year. The holiday celebrates the events which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel.
At that time the Syrian king was Antiochus. The king ordered the Jewish people to reject their religion, their customs and their beliefs and to worship the Greek gods. Some did this, but many refused. One who refused was Judah Maccabee.
Judah and his four brothers formed an army and chose as their name the word ‘Maccabee’, which means hammer. After three years of fighting, the Maccabees were finally successful in driving the Syrians out of Israel, and reclaiming the Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees
wanted to clean the building and to remove the Greek symbols and statues. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the job was finished and the temple was rededicated.
When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they wanted to light the seven branched Menorah (Candlebrum), which was lit every evening in the temple, using special olive oil. Only one jug of oil was found with enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. A miracle occurred as the oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days.
Jew’s celebrate Chanukah to mark the victory over the Syrians and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. The Festival of Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil and every evening the Mendra is lit in homes and Synagogues. The word Chanukah means “Rededication”.