Written by Staff Writer
Observant Jews around the world are commemorating Hanukkah this week, celebrating the miracle of the first Hebrew Jewish oil being miraculously enough to light a menorah for eight days.
Though only begun in 1932, this is the longest-running Hanukkah celebration in history. Created by Russian immigrant Menachem Mendel Schneerson as a way to strengthen ties between Jews and their fellow non-Jews, it takes its name from the book of Maccabees by Judah Maccabee, who led the revolt against the Syrian-Greek Seleucid Empire.
Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
“The origins of Hanukkah are quite murky. An account written in Soviet editions of “The Hebrew Bible” — a compilation of the earliest and oldest versions of the Hebrew Bible — reads that the Maccabees lit the lamp on a Tuesday, then defeated the Greeks the following day. The Greek authorities seized the holy Hanukkah candelabrum, the three candles. The situation was so dire that when the other members of the Maccabees, Pinchas and his wife Sifa, left to join the prisoners and were told that some of the men’s holy candles were missing, they again boldly burned the men’s candles,” recalled the website The Jewish Encyclopedia .
“Severe repercussions followed, which ended in the death of their wife, making Sifa the first widow of the revolt.”
1 / 10 The history of Hanukkah dates back to the Middle Ages, when one of the Ottoman Turkish sultans, Hasan II, mentioned the date of the holiday in his book “In The Shadow of Men.” The holiday celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek Seleucid Empire in 165 B.C. This account was written in Soviet editions of “The Hebrew Bible” — a compilation of the earliest and oldest versions of the Hebrew Bible — and its legend was brought over by Russian immigrant Menachem Mendel Schneerson as a way to strengthen ties between Jews and their fellow non-Jews. Credit: Nikolaos Kantorff/Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
In this tragic backdrop, it comes as no surprise that less than one percent of Jewish people in Europe are Muslim.
However, the holiday has its origins in biblical times, the holiday story of the Maccabees. During the 4th century B.C., the Philistines — a group of Christian Greeks — attacked the King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. In retaliation, King David ordered the lighting of a menorah in honor of the sun, replacing all of the six traditional lights (lumen) with one. This is the Hanukkah miracle of the miracle of eight menorahs (lumen) being lit for eight days. Afterward, the temple was torched and destroyed, but only one menorah was left intact, which was thrown into the sea. This presents the seven children of the Maccabees with the task of rebuilding the temple.