As families gather around the menorah tonight, QOMPLX wishes everyone a joyous Hanukkah 2020 (or 5781, depending on which calendar you're using)!
One of the most beloved Jewish holidays, Hanukkah commemorates not a religious event, but a historical one: the surprising military victory of a scrappy Hebrew resistance led by a clan known as the Maccabees over the superior forces of the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes in the 2nd Century B.C.E. Antiochus had invaded Jerusalem, outlawed the practice of Judaism and - critically - desecrated the Jewish temple, converting it into a temple honoring the Greek god Zeus.
History of Hanukkah
The term "Hanukkah" means "dedication" and it refers to the story of the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem after the vanquishing of the Syrian forces. As the victorious Hebrews went to light the ner tamid - or eternal light - that hangs in the Temple, they found only enough sacred oil to last one day. Obtaining more would take much longer. But the Jewish priests lit the eternal flame anyway and found - miraculously - that the one jar of sacred oil lasted for eight full days, enough time for messengers to return with more from afar.
Though it has become associated with gift giving in the last century, Hanukkah has traditionally been more about family gatherings, playing games (like dreidel) and eating - especially food cooked in oil, a reference to the Hanukkah miracle.
As the days grow shorter (and colder) here in the Northern Hemisphere, the lighting of the Hanukkah candles is a source of hope - a reminder that brighter days will return. And, as the pandemic rages on, the Hanukkah story of resistance, perseverance and triumph should give us all courage and strength to endure the months ahead and emerge stronger in the Spring.
Let the Festival of Lights begin! Happy Hanukkah from everyone at QOMPLX!