On Friday, the Jewish community of Fort Huachuca will celebrate Chanukah at the Main Post Chapel starting at 7 p.m.
Chanukah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates religious freedom and national independence. It dates back more than 2,300 years to the land of Judea, where the Jewish people were being ruled by Greek kings. One particularly brutal king was Antiochus, who forced the Jews to turn their backs on their faith and worship Greek gods.
Antiochus’ religious oppression caused a revolt by the Jewish people led by the Maccabee family. After three years of fighting, the Maccabees drove the Greco-Syrians out of Judea. They reclaimed their Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which had been defiled with statues of Zeus and other Greek gods.
When the Maccabees finished cleaning the Temple and wanted to rededicate it by relighting the Temple’s menorah, there was only enough pure oil to burn for one night, but a miracle occurred, and the Menorah burned for eight nights until more oil arrived.
Thanks to this eight-day miracle, the Jewish people celebrate the eight-day Festival of Light, or Chanukah. The word ‘Chanukah’ means dedication or consecration, reminding people of the illuminating light that comes from their faith in God and dedication to religious freedom.