The Colorado Springs Gazette: Happy Hanukkah, a celebration of freedom –

Happy Hanukkah, a day freedom-loving people of all backgrounds should celebrate Jewish tradition and freedom of religion.

Jewish actor-comedian Adam Sandler defines Hanukkah as eight crazy nights, and others give it the irreverent description the Jewish Christmas. For most Americans, it is a joyful holiday that helps make November and December the holiday season of music, lights, company parties and a festive atmosphere palpable in schools, shopping districts and the places we work.

The history of Hanukkah is serious and relevant to conflicts of a modern era burdened by religious persecution and anti-faith tyranny around much of the globe.

Hanukkah reminds us that religious liberty forms the foundation of freedom. It teaches us that freedom of religion never can be taken for granted. Those who have it can all thank those who fought and died for it.

Hanukkah celebrates the successful Maccabean revolt of the second-century B.C. Jews practicing Judaism in the land of Judea, aka the land of Israel, came under the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He forbade the practice of Jewish faith and tradition, ordering all Jews to worship Greek gods. This type of evil theocratic thuggery lives on today, with dictatorships and terror cells beheading, stoning and terrorizing Christians, Jews, Uyghurs, Hindus and others who refuse to denounce their faiths and embrace another god.

Led by the Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons, a large-scale rebellion broke out against Antiochus and the Seleucid monarchy, explains the History Channel.

When Matthathias died in 166 B.C., his son Judah, known as Judah Maccabee (the Hammer), took the helm; within two years the Jews had successfully driven the Syrians out of Jerusalem, relying largely on guerrilla warfare tactics. Judah called on his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild its altar and light its menorahthe gold candelabrum whose seven branches represented knowledge and creation and were meant to be kept burning every night.

The temple had only enough olive oil to burn the menorah candles for a day. In what Maccabee and other Jews considered a miracle, the candles flickered for eight nights enough time for them to find a new supply of oil. The eight-night miracle led to the festival known as Hanukkah which means dedication in Hebrew.

Throughout ensuing centuries, Jews have endured routine persecution. They have fought to survive, let alone lead lives of faith in peace.

Celebrate Hanukkah and give thanks for the right to live and worship in freedom, peace and the miracle of light.

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The Colorado Springs Gazette: Happy Hanukkah, a celebration of freedom -

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