The distinctive lights of Hanukkah have started to twinkle all through our community, indicating that Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is being celebrated by many in the Jewish community during this time. It is a festive holiday that joyously celebrates a milestone of faith and courage in Jewish history.

The story of Hanukkah is from the 2nd century BCE when the Jewish people successfully rebelled against an oppressive foreign power and rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The word “Hanukkah” means “dedication” or “consecration” in Hebrew. The brightly lit menorahs that shine from the windows during this holiday are symbols of dedication, and they honor the miraculous rededication of the Temple. They are placed in windows so that they may shine out to let everyone who sees them know of God’s power and care.

The story of Hanukkah is fascinating to me.

It is about how ordinary people responded to extraordinary circumstances, and in the process brought about a restoration of faith and pride for their community. It is about what makes a hero. And it is about miracles—perhaps not just the miracles that happened so long ago but also the ongoing miracle that the story is still told, and still inspires, more than 2,000 years later.

Those bright little lights sparkle with the confidence of what can happen when people are true to their faith in spite of oppression or evil. Perhaps this is why the story of Hanukkah, out of all the stories that could be told, is told with such flair and expression. The special nine-branched Hanukkah menorah that lights so many windows during this time shines brightly not just with pride in past history but also with hope.

Happy Hanukkah!