The True Meaning of Hanukkah
by David Harsanyi
December 9, 2020
In a recent Parents magazine piece headlined, “How to Explain the Hanukkah Story to Kids,” we are informed that, “this year more than any other is a great opportunity to take extra time to teach your family about the Jewish holiday that celebrates the power of light and miracles.” Hanukkah, Parents goes on to explain, “means dedication in Hebrew, and the Jewish holiday, also known as The Festival of Lights, represents joy.” Joy? This kind of insufferably vacuous, anesthetized, consumerist celebration that American Jews have concocted to compete with Christmas is stripped of any genuine theological or cultural meaning. It’s a shame, because from a historical and cultural perspective, Hanukkah might be Judaism’s most fascinating holiday; a story about roiling political upheavals of the ancient world, nationalism, assimilation, civil war, religious zealotry, martyrdom, and corruption. READ MORE
JNS Jonathan Tobin: Jews of no religion and the war on Hanukkah Why should anyone care that a woman who describes herself as “not Jewish” doesn’t think it’s worth the bother to teach her children about Hanukkah? The answer is that to institutions that are inherently hostile to faith, shining a spotlight on the decision of those with some ties to Jewish identity to abandon the fraying connection to Judaism that the “Festival of Lights” provides is something worth celebrating. That’s the backstory to the kerfuffle about The New York Times choosing to celebrate the holiday season by once again publishing an article highlighting alienation from Jewish tradition.
ALGEMEINER The Myths of Hanukkah There are several myths about Hanukkah, such as that Judah Maccabee defeated the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus decisively and regained independence for the Judean state… They were written in Hebrew within a generation shortly after the events. But they were not accepted into the Jewish Biblical Canon (possibly for political reasons). Nevertheless, most scholars (there is no such thing as unanimity in academia) accept them as reliable.