The Story of Hanukkah

Amarillo, TX -- While most of us get ready to polish off our Christmas leftovers and bid farewell to visiting family, the Jewish population of West Texas will commemorate the eighth and final night of Hanukkah tomorrow.

Hanukkah is known as the "Festival of Lights," and much like Christmas, its origin blends myth and truth in the name of faith.

The story of Hanukkah begins in the days of ancient Greece, when a tribe of Jews known as the Maccabees rose up against their Greek oppressors and regained their holy land.

Stanley Adelman, the President of the Temple of B'Nai Israel, offered his knowledge of Jewish history, saying, "The Jews tried to do that against the Romans and failed miserably at Masada, of course, but at least three more generations were able to live in their own land. And that wasn't going to happen again for two thousand years."

Two hundred fifty years later, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus blended fact and fiction to create the story of a miracle to inspire his people and educate their children.

Throughout Jewish history, the tale of Hanukkah has been rewritten and repurposed to introduce Jewish children to the tenets of their faith.

Dan Schneider has been attending the temple for the past several years, and says Hanukkah is an excellent family event in that his two small children are engaged in their faith, saying, "I think this holiday is helpful in a way that allows them to be involved in being Jewish in some small way that a small child can understand."

Adelman went on to draw the comparison between Christianity and Judaism and their respective winter holidays, saying, "I was probably a teenager or later when I realized that there really hadn't been a miracle; that this was something the rabbis made up.  In the same sense, I think, that many Christian children, if they're young enough, believe that there is a real, physical Santa Claus.  I think all of us can say that there is a Santa Claus, that if not physical, at least the spirit of goodwill that prevails at this time of the year."


Jeff Stebbins