This Jewish holiday celebrates and commemorates events that took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea (Israel). Antiochus, the Syrian king commanded the Jews to worship the Greek gods, prohibiting them from the practise of their own religious beliefs.
One man, Judah Maccabee steadfastly defied the imperial diktat and along with his brothers, fought valiantly for three long years. The Syrians were driven out of Judea and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem reclaimed by the Jews. The Temple was cleansed and rededicated and the eternal light, the N'er Tamid relit.... with barely enough oil to last one single day.
Miraculously, the light burnt for eight days and so, the Festival of Lights commemorates the triumph of faith. From then on, Hanukah is celebrated by lighting the candles in the menorah - one candle for each of the eight nights, the centre one to begin with.
Hanukah, the Festival of Dedication also celebrates the fortitude of Jews and their refusal to be forcibly assimilated into the mainstream religion and culture. The lights are symbolic of the resilience of a people who held on to their faith despite all odds.
Hanukah begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (November-December). For Jews around the world, it is a coming together of the family, a gathering of the clan - it is a time to light the holiday menorah, to give and to receive, to feast and rejoice together as one.