21 Nov: The First Hanukkah

When the Maccabees celebrated the recapture of Jerusalem from the Macedonian emperor Antiochus IV, they lit a menorah in the city’s holy temple. The date, in the ancient Hebrew calendar, was the twenty-fifth day of the third month of Kislev 3597… the first Hanukkah. 

Hanukkah’s significance waned in some early Jewish texts due to the favourable portrayal of Romans in the Book of Maccabees, but gained prominence in the Diaspora during the late 19th century, as it offered a distinct celebration for Jews in Western societies during the festive season. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider whether the Maccabees were freedom fighters or religious fundamentalists; explain why donuts may have played a crucial role in the widespread adoption of Hanukkah; and recall Adam Sandler’s totemic contribution to Hanukkah lore…

Further Reading:

‘Saturday Night Live: Adam Sandler on Hanukkah’ (NBC, 1994):