Wendy Rush

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Hanukkah is approaching, and some Las Vegas restaurants are offering special menus for the holiday. But first, some history. This is one interpretation of why Hanukkah is celebrated. There are others. This one comes from the Talmud, a central text in Judaism, courtesy of history.com.

Hanukkah is celebrated this time every year to remember a turbulent time in Jewish history. It started around 200 B.C. in Judea (AKA The Land of Israel), when King Antiochus III took control. He was the King of Syria who allowed the Jewish people to remain in their land and practice their religion.

Antiochus III‘s son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, was not as nice as his dad. When he took over, he outlawed the Jewish religion and demanded that the Jewish people worship Greek gods. His soldiers invaded Jerusalem in 168 B.C. They massacred many Jews and destroyed their city’s holy Second Temple. They sacrificed pigs within the sacred walls of the temple and put up an alter to the Greek god Zeus.

By about 164 B.C., the Syrians had been driven out of Jerusalem by a rebellion led by the Jewish priest Mattathias. The Second Temple was cleansed, it’s alter rebuilt, and its menorah lit. The menorah was meant to be kept burning every night. But there was only enough oil to last a single night. Hanukkah, which is Hebrew for “dedication”, lasts eight nights because of a miracle witnessed during this time.

The story comes from the men at the rededication of the Second Temple. They saw the menorah candles stay lit for eight nights on a single night’s worth of oil. Believing this to be a miracle, the Jewish sages proclaimed a yearly eight-day festival. And thus, Hanukkah was born (history.com).

Hanukkah this year goes from the evening of December 18th and ends the evening of December 26. Here’s where you can go in Las Vegas for a special Hanukkah menu around that time. Wendy Rush