Judaism is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion, dating back nearly 4,000 years. Followers of Judaism believe in one God who revealed himself through ancient prophets. The history of Judaism is essential to understanding the Jewish faith, which has a rich heritage of law, culture and tradition. It a religion developed among the ancient Hebrews and characterized by belief in one transcendent God who has revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions.
Jewish people observe several important days and events in history, such as:
Passover refers to the biblical story of when the Hebrew God “passed over” houses of Jewish families and saved their children during a plague that was said to have killed all other first-born babies in Egypt.
Rosh Hashanah: Jews celebrate the birth of the universe and humanity during this holiday, which is also known as the Jewish New Year.
High Holy Days: The 10 days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are also known as the High Holidays, the Days of Awe or Yamim Noraim. The High Holy Days are considered a time of repentance for Jewish people.
Hanukkah: This Jewish celebration, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” lasts eight days. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees defeated the Syrian-Greeks over 2,000 years ago.
Why Jewish celebrate Hanukkah
According to Jewish custom Hanukkah is considered a “minor” Jewish festival, today it ranks along with Passover and Purim as one of the most beloved Jewish holidays, full of light and joy and family celebration. Unlike many Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Bible. The historical events upon which the celebration is based are recorded in Maccabees I and II, two books contained within a later collection of writings known as the Apocrypha. During the period of the second Beit Hamikdash Antiochus, the king of Greece breached the walls of Jerusalem, desecrated the Beit Hamikdash, the holy temple, and killed as well as sold to slavery thousands of Jews. After approximately two years of war, the Jewish army regained control of Jerusalem, marking the first time since the time of the first Beit Hamikdash that there was Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem and over the land of Israel. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the Jewish people began to purify and re-inaugurate the Beit Hamikdash which was previously desecrated by the Greeks It marks the miraculous victory of the Jews, led by the Maccabees, against Greek persecution and religious oppression. In addition to being victorious in war, another miracle occurred: When the Maccabees came to rededicate the Temple; they found only one flask of oil with which to light the Menorah. This small flask lasted for eight days. As a result of the victory, next year on the 25th of the month of Kislev, the Jewish sages proclaimed these days, in which the previous year the Menorah miraculously burned for 8 days, to be celebrated as the Holiday of Chanukah.