The eight-day festival of Hanukkah has its roots in the time period between the Old and New Testament. In the second century BCE, Greeks ruled the Holy Land and wanted to assimilate the Jews into Greek culture. Laws were passed making it illegal to observe Jewish religious customs. The price for defiance was death. But when the Greeks demanded that the Jews desecrate the Temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar, a revolt broke out. And thus Hanukkah was born.
Hanukkah celebrates two miraculous events from this war. First, the victory of the Jewish rebels (the Maccabees) against the mighty Greek army. Second, the jar of oil that burned for eight days in the Temple menorah after it was cleansed and rededicated. In honor of these events, Jews celebrate for eight days with festive food, games, songs of praise, and lighting the special Hanukkah menorah that has 9 branches instead of the traditional 7.
Lighting the menorah has also come to symbolize bringing light to the world, and is a reminder to do our part to overcome evil with good. To learn more about this holiday, click here. Happy Hanukkah to all our Jewish brothers and sisters!