Did you know that Christmas can be a very lonely time for us Jewish people? All the advertisements, shopping, decorations and caroling remind us that we live in lands whose cultures are not our own. And so, as we watch our non-Jewish friends and neighbors immerse themselves in all the customs and traditions of Christmas, we’re likely to feel more isolated than at any other time of the year. That’s why Christmas is a wonderful time to reach out to your Jewish friends with the love of Yeshua. This year Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 15 and ends just a few days before Christmas. This provides a wonderful opportunity. Why not send a Hanukkah greeting to any Jewish people that you know? Your Jewish friends will certainly know that it’s Christmas. But they’ll probably be surprised to see that you know that it’s Hanukkah. And the fact that you cared enough to reach out in a way that’s culturally Jewish may very well speak volumes to them about the love of Christ. Who knows, perhaps the Lord will even give you the opportunity to share the real meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, God’s Christmas gift to the world!
Some Interesting Facts about Hanukkah
- Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of the Syrio- Greek tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes IV, around 165 B.C.. At that time, the armies of Judah Maccabee recaptured Jerusalem, cleansed the Temple, and reinstated the sacrifices that had ceased. And that’s why this holiday is called Hag Hanukkah”— the Feast of the Dedication.
- According to tradition, when the menorah—the seven-armed candelabrum in the Temple—was rekindled, there was only enough consecrated oil to keep the light burning for one day. But by a miracle, the light burned for eight days, providing enough time to bring fresh oil for the lamp. And that’s why Hanukkah lasts for eight days.
- Unlike the seven-branched menorah that stood in the Temple, the Hanukkah menorah (or hanukkiah) that we light during this holiday has nine arms. The center arm is called the shammas, and it’s used to light all the other lights on the menorah, one for each night. By the eighth night, our homes are aglow with the brightness of the fully-lit menorahs. And that’s why Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights.
- There is only one place in the entire Bible where we find a reference to Hanukkah: “Now it was the Feast of Dedication [Hanukkah] in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch” (John 10:22-23).
- It was at Hanukkah that Yeshua, the Light of the World, stood in the Temple area and declared, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).