November 18, 2023
The Jewish celebration of Chanukah is often associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas, but that association has little to do with the significance of each holiday and more to do with the timing. Each is celebrated at the end of the year when the holiday season has hit full swing. But much like the story of Christmas, the story of Chanukah is a rich one.
The celebration of Chanukah has a deep history that can be traced back to a successor of Alexander the Great. Upon conquering Syria, Egypt and Palestine, Alexander the Great allowed these lands to remain relatively autonomous, a gesture that extended to allowing residents of these conquered lands to observe their own religions. However, more than 100 years later, Antiochus IV, a less tolerant successor of Alexander, began to oppress the Jewish people under his control, desecrating their temples and even ordering the massacre of many Jews.
This treatment eventually sparked a revolt led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son, Judah Maccabee. This revolt would ultimately prove successful, and the temple was rededicated. But at the time of rededication, oil needed to light the menorah was very low, roughly enough to keep the menorah lit for just one night. However, the oil stunningly lasted for eight days, enough time to prepare an additional supply of oil for the menorah.
An eight-day festival was then declared to celebrate this miracle, and that festival is now known as Chanukah, which is often referred to as the "Festival of Lights."
Though Chanukah is not as religiously significant as the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Passover, many Jewish people still look forward to the holiday and its traditions.
Chanukah Menorah Lighting will be on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. in front of Moses-Master Carpet, 110 E. Tehachapi Blvd. The service will be officiated by Rabbi Shmuli Schlaanger of Chabad of Bakersfield, located at 6901 Ming Ave., Bakersfield. For more information, please call Rabbi Schlanger at (661) 834-1512.