Skip to main content

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and the Myths We Tell

It feels somewhat strange when we celebrate Hanukkah a few days after gathering for Thanksgiving. Our Jewish holidays are tied to the Hebrew calendar which operates independently from the Gregorian calendar. Occasionally however, Hanukkah finds its way into November and nears Thanksgiving.

This offers us a unique opportunity to reflect upon our dual commitments as American Jews. Interestingly both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are built upon myths that are thinly tied to history. Let me explain.

Nowhere in the Book of Maccabees, the first written record of the events surrounding Hanukkah, is the miracle of oil mentioned. I realize this may come as a surprise given that this story forms the core of how we talk about Hanukkah. We first find the miracle story in the Talmud, a book completed nearly 700 years after the Maccabean revolt.

Did the miracle of oil really occur?

Comments