December 22, 2011
No Matter What You Celebrate....

Three hundred years before the birth of Christ, Alexander the Great conquered an empire that ranged from Eastern Europe to India.

Alexander died in his 30's and the empire was divided among his generals. The area we now call the Middle East was governed from Damascus. Local religions were outlawed and local peoples were forced to worship Greek Gods.

From what is now a suburb of Tel Aviv, a clan called the Maccabees rose up against the "Greek-Syrians". And as America has learned in Vietnam and Afghanistan, overcoming guerilla tactics can be very difficult.

Eventually, the Greeks withdrew and the Jews rededicated the Jerusalem Temple which was the centerpiece of their faith. Holy lamps there burned for eight days. And so today, Jews celebrate with lights for eight nights and small gifts.

Except for its proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish calendar. But it has always been one of my favorites. The December celebrations speak to the ongoing struggle for religious freedom and human dignity.

Our Coastal Menorah on this Third Night

No matter what you celebrate this week, do so with joy, with the love of your family, and with hope for our complex world. As we say with each set of Menorah candles, "We light these lights for the miracles and the wonders...."

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