I grew up loving this holiday – until I learned the dark side and felt like a kid discovering that there’s no Santa Claus. It turns out Hanukkah is, in part, a tale of Jew vs. Jew.
The Hebrew word hanukkah means "dedication," and refers to the rededication of the second temple to the service of God during the successful revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucid rulers of Syria in the second century BCE.
I grew up going to services. A lot of services. I was adept at counting the ceiling tiles, reaching into the thousands as my grasp of numbers grew more sophisticated. The melodies became part of my life soundtrack; I hummed them as my mind wandered during the rabbi’s sermon.
According to Rashi, we light Hanukkah candles to “publicize the miracle.” What exactly is the miracle we’re publicizing – and what’s the best way for us to do so today?
As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the Jewish calendar and the secular calendar offer a strange convergence in the United States this year as Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide. The Jewish media has been full of humorous articles about combined menus (like this one from Jewish cooking expert Tina Wasserman) featuring foods like latkes with cranberry sauce, and the term “Thanksgivukkah” has been coined to describe the merged holiday.