Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happy Hanukkah

I would like to take a moment to wish all of my Jewish friends (like my brother-in-law and my buddy of the bees- he knows who he is!) a blessed Hanukkah. This day honors a very important period in both Jewish and Pagan history and we Pagans would do well to remember it. You see, about 2200 years ago, Jerusalem was ruled over by Greece. Greece was a Pagan country at the time, of course, and they considered the Jews to be heretics and atheists- and trouble makers. They put severe restrictions on Jewish practice. Antiochus IV outlawed Judaism outright. It is true that this isn't typical of a Pagan society, but Antiochus did it.

Part of this "get rid of Jews" project included the take over the Second Temple in Jerusalem and sacrifice a pig (you know, unclean) on the altar. I have been told by Jewish co-workers that they also installed sacred prostitutes. I am not sure I believe this part either, of it was added later to make it seem worse to modern ears. Sacrificing an unclean animal on an altar of the Jewish God is bad enough. Trust me.

So anyway, the story goes that the Jews rose up against the Greeks and routed them from the temple and basically baracaded themselves inside. There was no getting supplies from outside for awhile because the Greeks were out there and they were pissed. The Jews wasted no time cleansing and reconsecrating the temple, but they found that there wasn't very much consecrated oil available for the eternal flame. Apparently the Greeks had taken or defiled the stores on hand and only one container remained sealed. They lit the menorah anyway. The menorah continued to burn for 8 days while the priests worked busily to prepare more. (My Jewish co-worker, the same one who says there were prostitutes in the temple tells me that the Greeks were outside the temple trying to get in and they were fighting them off for 8 days, which is why they couldn't get more oil. I don't know if this is true or not, but it's certainly more exciting than the Wikipedia version!)

Hanukkah is not the celebration of the battle or the victory. This is an important distinction. It is the celebration of the rededication of the temple and the miracle. It is a time for Jews to celebrate the victory of light (the Torah) over darkness (*cough*Paganism) and a time for us to remember that Pagans weren't always the victims in history that we modern Pagans like to claim them to be!

Of course, I'm not all about my view and being fluffy. Some people don't agree with me, and that's cool. Here is a completely different take of the whole situation, and a few more... http://www.slate.com/id/2179045/

And here's some more history to chew on, for geeks like me http://www.slate.com/id/2133068/
All of this is rather combattive, yes, but I like my history that way.
I want to know how they uncircumsized themselves.