Festival of Lights lighting the path to history

This weekend the holiday known to Jews as the Festival of Lights kicks off. Rabbi Daniel Sherman of Tree of Life Congregation gives us a better understanding of what the celebration is all about.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- It was a battle over two thousand years ago that started what we know of today as Hanukkah.

â??The Syrian Greeks were trying to unite the kingdom and so they passed laws for the entire area which required everyone to become Greek. Which included taking on Greek culture as well as Greek religion, says Rabbi Daniel Sherman, Tree of Life Congregation.

Rabbi Daniel Sherman says a man by the name of Judah Maccabee stood up to the injustice and did something about it. He along with others waged a three year battle to reclaim their ability to practice Judaism and to rededicate their temple that had been desecrated.

â??Hanukkah means rededication. They rededicated the holy temple and they rededicated themselves to their Jewish faith and traditions,â?? says Rabbi Sherman.

Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights. Rabbi Sherman says each night for the eight days of Hanukkah; Jews light a candle to remember the miracle that happened after the battle was over.

â??They could only find one small vial of pure olive oil to light the menorah. They sang their songs and praises that night and the menorah was still burning bright and the oil lasted eight daysâ?? says Rabbi Sherman.

Rabbi Sherman says during the holiday some families give gifts each night. But this has nothing to do with Christmas.

â??It goes back to the tradition that the Maccabees they brought gifts for the dedication of the temple,â?? says Rabbi Sherman.

Rabbi Sherman says apart from the miracle, thereâ??s another lesson to learn from Hanukkah; itâ??s a reminder of the freedom of religion.

Hanukkah ends Sunday December 16.