To learn about the practices and traditions of Chanukah go here.

The Story of Chanukah:

Chanukah, the Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the festival of lights, is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.

The story of Chanukah begins during the reign of the Syrian Greek King Antiochus IV.  In 175 BCE Antiochus invaded Israel.  He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple.

In 167 BCE a group of Jews led by Mattityahu, the Jewish Priest, and his five sons started a revolution against the oppression.  In 166 BCE Mattityahu died, and leadership of the revolution went to his son, Judah the Maccabbee (The Hammer).  In 165 BCE the revolution succeeded and the Temple was rededicated.

According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks.  Oil was needed for the Menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the Menorah.  An eight-day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.  Note that the holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory:  Jews do not glorify war.

Now, to commemorate the miracle of the oil, we light the nine-candle Chanukah Menorah.  Eight candles are to remember the eight days of the miracle, and a ninth candle that is The Shamash (The Helper).  On the first night of Chanukah we light the Shamash and one other candle for the first night.  On the second night, we light The Shamash and two candles.  Every night we add a candle to the lighting, until on the eighth night we light all of the candles.

In our homes, we place the Menorah in the window.  So, that the light of the Menorah will shine out into the street.  This was the inspiration to build The Bill Graham Menorah.  So, that we could bring the light out into the street to share our celebration of the triumph of right over might, of light over darkness.