Hanukkah, which means "dedication" and is also referred to as "The Festival of Lights", is a Jewish festival which begins on the Hebrew date of the 25th of Kislev and lasts eight days, through the 2nd of Tevet. Hanukkah has only five letters in the original Hebrew. In English there are at least 16 ways to spell it, including: Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukah, Hanukkah, Kanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanuka, Khanukah, Khanukkah, and Xanuka.
For eight days, Hanukkah candles shine in the window to brighten the night. Family and friends come to help light the candles in the hanukiyah (Menorah), to eat latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts), and play games of dreidel. Presents are exchanged, songs are sung, and the story is told of brave, stubborn Judah Maccabee.
Almost two and a half millennia ago, Judea was ruled by Antiochus, a Syrian king. He attempted to assimilate the Jews into Greek culture, commanding them to worship Greek gods while oppressing Jewish culture and religion.
Many Jews refused to do so. Led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers, the Jewish people, after a three-year struggle, overthrew their Syrian oppressors.
When Jerusalem's Temple was reclaimed, the Hebrews found it defiled by statues of the Greek gods and other religious artifacts. They cleared out the foreign icons and rededicated the temple on the 25th day of Kislev. As part of their campaign of oppression, the Greeks had systematically defiled any Jewish religious item they could find. So when the time came to light the N'er Tamid, the Eternal Light of the Temple, the Jews could find only one sanctified jar of oil--marked with the seal of the High Priest. It was enough to last one evening. The lamp was lit with this small jar of oil and, miraculously, stayed...