For three long years they hid in the caves.
The hillsides filled with the sound of their battles.
The voices of warriors, unleashing their cries of anger
As with sword and shield, they fought against tyranny.
We were under the thumb of Antiochus;
Our Temple had been sacked, looted and defiled,
We could no longer practice our religion,
We were denied the right to be Jews.
But then came the Maccabees…
Mattisyahu and his five sons.
We remember them as religious men,
Righteous men, fighting for our way of life.
They were led by Judah.
Not Judah of the Twelve Tribes,
But the one who was his namesake…
He who held the strength of his forebear
And was girded by conviction to stand fast and to fight.
Judah, whose very name means Jew,
Rose up, and together with his brothers, defeated Antiochus.
They reclaimed our Temple, cleansed and reconsecrated it,
Knowing that the nerCandle tamid
would soon brightly shine.
Though there was not enough oil for even one day, they relit that lamp…
For eight days and nights, its illumination did not dim.
The Temple had truly become a house of prayer once more
And the Maccabees gave praise to the Giver of Light and Life.
And that long ago flame has never died…
We know it today in the light of the hanukkiyahThe modern Hebrew term for the Hanukah menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum (eight primary candles plus the shamash/server candle) lit on Hanukah to symbolize the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days.
Beautiful candles brilliantly burning, filling us with warmth,
Becoming shining rays of hope for the future.
HanukkahThe holiday which celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its conquest by the Syrians in 165 BCE. The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles in a hanukiyah oon each of eight nights. Other customs include the eating of fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts), playing dreidl (a gambling game with a spinning top), and, in present day America, gift giving.
: The Festival of Lights.
It is a joyous celebration of our journey
From darkness into brightness.
The telling of a story we all know so well…
And it gently reminds us that this journey,
Out of darkness and back into the light,
Is one which never ends…
We will repeat it, again, and again, and again,
As each day, another candle is added,
Each night is filled with more light than the one before.
A single candle provides us light; combined they light our way,
Pushing back the darkness of our souls, and illuminating our lives.
This holiday reminds us; darkness lives ceaselessly at the edge of light,
Yet light has strength, and the power to overcome darkness.
Our people have always had the strength to overcome darkness,
And even in the darkest of days, we shall forever celebrate light.