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Give the Gift of Hebrew for Chanukah


Chanukah – The word is almost synonymous with Christmas: the two seem to go hand in hand. However, do you know what it means? Do you know what it commemorates? The word is a Hebrew word and it means “Dedication.” To answer the second question, we need to go back in history to the middle of the 2nd Century BCE (or BC) to the land of Judea. Just what was being dedicated? And…did you know it was known and mentioned in the Christian Scriptures? It’s found in the Gospel of St. John 10: 22, 23.

As we said earlier, the word means “dedication.” Chanukah is often called the “Festival of Lights” or the “Feast of Dedication.” Its history goes back over two thousand years. OK…fasten your history safety belts, this is going to a fast ride.

In brief, here’s some basic history behind this feast – holy-day. It all started with Alexander the Great. His vast empire included what we now call the Middle-East, in particular, Judea. After he died, his empire was divided between his generals: one these generals, Ptolemy, took Egypt and Judea; another general, Antiochus Seleucus, took the lands which we know as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and parts of southern Turkey and western Iran.

About 120 years or so later, the descendants to these two generals fought a series of battles for control of Judea. The descendant of Antiochus won the war and marched his troops into Jerusalem. His name was Antiochus IV (surnamed – Epiphanes) and he was determined to make the Jews part of his kingdom – this meant forcing the Jews to leave the religion of the One G-d.

As you can well imagine, this did not sit very well with the Jews especially after Antiochus had a statue of Zeus placed in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and then he had his pagan priests start sacrificing pigs within the Temple precincts; plus, it became illegal to read the Torah and practice the rite of circumcision or to teach or learn the Scriptures in Hebrew.

Again, very briefly, a hero came forth named Judah Maccabee. He led a series guerrilla-like campaigns and as well as actual battles against Antiochus and his army. It became a war for Jewish independence from pagan rule. Judah re-took the Temple; Jerusalem was surrounded. Supplies were very limited.

Oil (olive oil) for the Main Menorah of the Temple was only supposed to last a day, but instead, a great miracle occurred – the oil lasted 8 Days. This was long enough for reinforcements to come and for Judah and the Jewish priests to Re-dedicate the Temple back to the true worship of Israel’s G-d.

During the Chanukah Season – the season of “Light” and also introspection, give the gift of Hebrew to someone for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. Perhaps you know someone who will be visiting Israel in the coming year – maybe that someone is you – give yourself that gift. Or, for someone who wants to know the Language of the Bible, Hebrew makes a Great Christmas gift. Go ahead and re-dedicate yourself in study which will pay you back richly with the Pleasure of Knowledge!

Try any of these great programs: “At Home With Hebrew” for beginners, “Hebrew Kindergarten” for more advanced students, and “Shirei Ha-Shabbat” for anybody who wants to know Jewish-Shabbat liturgy.


 Learn Hebrew
 Chanukah Gift
 History Of Chanukah
 Dedication Menorah
 Festival of Lights

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