Today at sundown begins Hanukkah – the Jewish festival of light. Hanukkah commemorates the rebellion and victory of a small and poorly armed group of Jews over the powerful army of Syrian king Antiochus who had brought Judea under his control and subsequently outlawed Judaism, desecrated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and violently forced Jews to assimilate into hellenistic culture. Though greatly outnumbered, the Jewish resistance persevered and was able to drive out the oppressors.
When the triumphant Jews entered the Temple, they discovered that only one jar of oil was left to rekindle the eternal light and reclaim the Temple. As the story goes, the oil lasted for eight days until a new supply of oil arrived. Hanukkah – which means “dedication” – celebrates over eight consecutive days the rededication of the Holy Temple and the miracle of the single jar of oil which should have only lasted for a day, yet kept the eternal light going for eight days.