“What is Hanukkah?”

Even our Sages ask this in Tractate Shabbat, so I am not offended when every non-Jew I know asks me to explain Hanukkah. This past week was a great opportunity for me to refine my spiel, so here is a short synopsis of WHY Jews celebrate Chanukah (there are many ways to spell it in English!)

Basically, it’s a 1800+ year old tradition that commemorates our successful fight for religious freedom against the Greek Army and the re-dedication of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem. We honour it by lighting candles for 8 nights, because after over 100 years of war we were unable to celebrate our most precious biblical holidays, Peasach and Sukkot, which are 8 days long. The Sages of our tradition decided to make up for that with a new holiday: Hanukkah, meaning “concentration” or “dedication” in Hebrew.

We also share thematic stories and eat thematic foods, but the previous points are the most important to know. Happy Holidays & I wish you much success and happiness in 2023/5783!

Thank you for reading!

If this was helpful for you, please share this with your family and friends who are curious about this topic and comment any follow-up questions you have!


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By Joey Dean

Canadian Transgender artist Joey Dean paints bold emotional abstracts that warp reality. His pop-surrealism expresses a sadness’s and bittersweet nostalgia for growing up LGBTQ+ in a place where he didn’t exist. He strives to advocate issues within his community such as acceptance over tolerance, supporting victims of violence, and the intersections of mental health and being *Queer.

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