Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hanukkah

The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah begins tonight at sundown. Hanukkah lasts for 8 days. This celebration is also known as the festival of lights. The story of Hanukkah began during the reign of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Palestine, but allowed the people to continue to observe their own religion. The trouble began when Antiochus IV took over control of the region 100 years later. He prohibited the practice of Jewish religion and desecrated the Temple. The conflict lead to an uprising that was headed by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee.
They revolted against the oppression and fought against the assimilation of Jews into the culture of that time. The revolution was successful. And now Hanukkah is the celebration of the rededication of the Temple. I learned all this from a web site called Judaism 101. When I was in college, I lived in an international house. I had roommates from all over the world. One of my roommates was a Jewish girl from the United States. That was the first year I celebrated Hanukkah. For eight days we said the prayers and exchanged gifts. I learned how to play the dreidle game with pennies. I won some, I lost some. Mostly, I remember a shared time with friends learning about a new culture, singing songs in a language that I did not know and reciting beautiful prayers that my friends translated for me. This is one of my most cherished memories from college. So, I learned facts from the web site, but I "experienced" the celebration of Hanukkah with my friends.

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