The Hanukkah Story
Nearly 2,200 years ago, the Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV
tried to force Greek culture upon peoples in his territory. Jews in Judea—now Israel—were forbidden their most important religious practices as well as study of the Torah. Although vastly outnumbered, religious Jews in the region took up arms to protect their community and their religion. Led by Mattathias the Hasmonean, and later his son Judah the Maccabee, the rebel armies became known as the Maccabees.
After three years of fighting, in the year 3597, or about 165 B.C.E., the Maccabees victoriously reclaimed the temple on Jerusalem's Mount Moriah. Next they prepared the temple for rededication—in Hebrew, Hanukkah means “dedication.” In the temple they found only enough purified oil to kindle the temple light for a single day. But miraculously, the light continued to burn for eight days.
My grandfather had a little sister. I know what she looked like. I have seen the photo. A 1941 photo. Or was it 1940? I don’t remember exactly. It was a long time ago that I saw it last. My grandfather knew. But he has been dead for a while, so he cannot tell me. If the photo was taken in 1941, that is the year my grandfather’s sister died.
In his 60s, towards the end of his days, my grandfather got very sentimental. He had had three heart attacks, the first one when he was in his 40s, so he wasn’t good for much towards the end of his days.
He would sit on the couch, clutching his sister’s old photo, and cry. About 40 years had passed, but he would still cry. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that, many years after my parents go, may they live a long life, I will cry exactly like he did. My people, the Jews, are like that. Cry babies.
So his sister lived, and then she died. It is a fact. I know that, because I have seen my grandfather cry over her photo.