Hanukkah Paintings

Paintings of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the festival of lights

Chanukah, also known as Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Syrian-Greek army in the 2nd century BCE. The holiday is celebrated by lighting a special nine-branched candelabra called a menorah, one candle for each night of the holiday. The holiday is also marked by the exchange of gifts, the singing of traditional songs, and the eating of fried foods, particularly latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).

The story of Chanukah is recorded in the book of Maccabees, which is part of the Hebrew Bible. According to this account, the Syrian-Greek army, led by King Antiochus IV, conquered Jerusalem and desecrated the Holy Temple by erecting an altar to the Greek god Zeus and sacrificing pigs on it. A group of Jewish rebels, known as the Maccabees, fought back against the Syrian-Greeks and succeeded in driving them out of Jerusalem.

When the Maccabees entered the Holy Temple to rededicate it to the worship of God, they found only a small amount of pure oil that had not been defiled by the Syrian-Greeks. This oil was enough to light the menorah in the temple for only one day, but miraculously, it lasted for eight days, until more pure oil could be obtained. This miracle is the reason that Chanukah is celebrated for eight days, and the lighting of the menorah is an important part of the holiday.

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