American spirit of Hanukkah

Print Article

American cultural identity is synonymous with revolution and religious freedom. Which makes the story of Hanukkah quintessentially American.

Under Alexander The Great’s Persian empire, government didn’t interfere with religious exercise. Jews and everyone else in Palestine were free to practice any faith with relative autonomy.

But once Alexander died such bonhomie didn’t last. The succeeding Ptolemaic dynasty technically allowed Jews self-rule, but brought drastic changes. Antiochus massacred and oppressed, prohibiting all but his own religion, and placed a Hellenistic priest in charge of the temple in Jerusalem. To make his point, he desecrated it.

The faithful didn’t take that lying down. You’ve probably heard of Maccabees and Pharisees, two Jewish sects who joined forces in revolution: That’s how we get to Hanukkah. It commemorates their rededication of that desecrated temple to the Jewish faith.

Actually, that’s not quite right. The rededication marks the timing, but Hanukkah specifically celebrates what the faithful believe was the miracle of the menorah. In that Jerusalem temple was a candelabrum whose oil supply needed daily refurbishment. Despite having only enough oil for one day, somehow this menorah stayed lit for eight days and nights.

That’s the miracle of Hanukkah. Why are there nine candles in modern menorahs? The middle one lights the others.

Tomorrow’s last evening of Hanukkah closes a beautiful tradition, yet Hanukkah is less important in Jewish faith than is Christmas to Christians. Rosh Hashanah (new year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Passover have greater religious significance. Culturally, however, its December timing with many other cultural and religious traditions makes it a festive family holiday.

We at The Press wish our Jewish friends a very Happy Hanukkah.

“May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all mankind.” — Anonymous blessing.

•••

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

Print Article

Read More Sholeh Patrick

Opinion: Berkeley takes a back seat for libraries

July 19, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press They say you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. For a family member temporarily based in Bay-area California, that hit home when plans for a relaxing afternoon at the library were foiled by...

Comments

Read More

Grammar/Humor: MLP (never) walks into a bar

July 17, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Today’s dilemma, dear Readers, is whether to die laughing, or from the abject horror of these grammatic fauxs-pas: A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the b...

Comments

Read More

MLP: Resolving Fort Ground(s) dispute

July 12, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Let it not be said your Mrs. Language Person rebukes requests. One Mr. Faulkner Person (he of that blessed breed of grammar enforcers, Oh faithful teachers of English!) did ask, “Should it be ‘Fort...

Comments

Read More

RESEARCH: A birthday important to every American

July 10, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Due process. Equal protection. Citizenship. With such heavy emphasis on democracy’s fundamentals, it’s no wonder the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment — sometimes called the “state powers” amendme...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2018 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X