Jewish children around the world recognize Chanukah as the one week out of the year they get to play with fire, eat as many doughnuts and potato pancakes as they want and get one present every night for eight days.
However, there is a story behind the traditions of Chanukah. It’s partly fictional, but it puts some meaning behind the customs.
Long ago, the Syrians tried to force their religion upon the Jews. Eventually, the Syrians failed and left Jerusalem, but they left quite a mess in the temple.
The ner tamid, or the oil lamp, that is known as the “eternal light” signifying God, needed to be relit. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, but, miraculously, the oil lasted for eight.
The Chanukah story is entertaining, but there is a deeper meaning behind the tale. This holiday celebrates the importance of religious freedom.
Now that I’m 15, the childhood magic of Chanukah is slipping away. I’m too old for nightly gifts and kid-friendly songs, but I still want to appreciate Chanukah as much as I used to.
When I was younger, I looked past the important parts of the holiday. Now that I’m ready to appreciate Chanukah in a more mature way, it seems so much brighter.
My Judaism defines me, and I wouldn’t be the same without it. Chanukah reminds me of how lucky I am to live in a time and place where it is legal and accepted to practice any religion.
To me, Chanukah is still a magical holiday. The magic is in the history and the family tradition. I used to be afraid that I was growing away from Chanukah, but I’m not losing it; I’m finally seeing it in the proper light.
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