Tell your kids a story of Hanukkah that's filled with heroic deeds and an amazing miracle.
Judah Maccabee is our hero in a tale of fighting for religious freedom.
The Fateful Decree of King Antiochus
Long, long ago, the Jews of Israel were ruled by a Syrian king named Antiochus Epiphanes. He was a very cruel ruler who demanded that the Jews worship pagan gods. As much as they could, the Jews refused to obey the king and this made him very angry.
King Antiochus was very determined and set out a new decree. He would forbid the Jews to read from the Torah and made it illegal to pray to their God. It became forbidden to worship the Sabbath and celebrate Jewish festivals and holidays. What's more, he built pagan alters in the holiest of Jewish places, The Temple. There, the Jews would be forced to make animal sacrifices to the Greek god, Zeus.
The Maccabees Fight Back
The Jews were horrified, but Syrian soldiers were sent in to enforce the rules and the Jews had little choice but to obey. As the news spread throughout Israel, small groups of Jews decided that something must be done. The holy priest of Modi'in, Mattathias, and his five sons organized a small army and escaped to the hills outside of Jerusalem. This army became known as the Maccabees and was led by Judah, one of Mattathias' sons.
For over three years the Jews fought the Syrians until finally, on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev, the Maccabees were triumphant and pushed the Syrians out of their land!
How a Miracle Happened
In celebration of their victory, the Jews rushed into their Temple. They removed all of the pagan alters and found the everlasting light that burns continuously in all places of Jewish worship. The Maccabees looked for oil to relight the lamp, but found only enough oil to burn for one day. They lit their lamp and said special prayers of thanks to God, honoring their newly reclaimed religious freedom...
And then, according to a story of Hanukkah, a great miracle happened. The everlasting light burned for not one day....but for eight days! This was, indeed, a miracle.
In remembrance of the recapture of the Temple, and the miracle of the oil, Jews all over the world celebrate Hanukkah on the 25th day of Kislev (sometime in December). They light a menorah each night, adding a candle each day to represent the great miracle. Special songs are sung, holiday foods eaten, and games played. It's a time for thanks and for spending time with family.
Join us this year in making a story of Hanukkah come to life. Make some hanukkah crafts for kids, taste some of our holiday recipes and dust off your Hanukkah menorahs.