Chanukah is a holiday with many names. Some call it the Festival of Lights, while others refer to it as the Feast of Rededication or the Holiday of Miracles. To add to the confusion, there is absolutely no consensus as to its proper spelling.
If you dont believe me, just check out the selection of Hallmarks cards wishing your family everything from a happy Hanukka to Chanukah to Chanukah and even Khanukkah!
This year, since the second night is also Thanksgiving, we now have Thanksgivingkah! All of these differences only serve to emphasize that Chanukah is a holiday with multiple meanings and significance.
The historical version of Chanukah, recorded in the Book of Maccabees, chronicles the events in 168 BCE, when the Syrian King Antiochus desecrated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and issued decrees prohibiting Jewish worship, circumcision and Shabbat observance.
Mattathias the High Priest, along with his five, hardy Maccabean sons and a small group of Jewish insurgents, rose up and fought for three years against the Syrian army.
On the 25th of Kislev, the Jews restored the Holy Temple and rededicated it to G-d.
We learn from this version that through acts of defiance and resistance, the Jewish people can overcome oppression and live with dignity as Jews.
Another version of the Chanukah story focuses on the internal strife between Jews as they struggled to expand and define what practices were acceptable for Jews living within a foreign culture.