fbpx Hanukkah | Reconstructing Judaism


Hanukkah is a relatively new holiday. It developed in the post-Biblical period, after the successful rebellion in 169-166 BCE against the religious persecutions of King Antiochus IV. The rabbis of the Talmud later wove together extra-biblical stories of the victory with a narrative of miraculous intervention, signified by the miracle of the oil which lasted eight nights rather than one.

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan used Hanukkah as an example of the importance of religious ideals in a civilization’s survival and success. Even though the Maccabees might have thought that God gave them the victory, Kaplan asserted that it was “their devotion to the service of their God that gave significance to their victory and made the memory of it worth preserving.”1

  • 1. Adapted from A Guide to Jewish Practice, Volume 2—Shabbat and Holidays. The Guide may be ordered from the Reconstructionist Press.
Hanukkah Candles
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Lighting Hanukkah Candles

Need a refresher on lighting Hanukkah candles? Ritualwell will walk you through it with this video and accompanying text.

Hashivenu Podcast: Hanukkah Special

The story of Hanukkah invites us to kindle lights in the darkness, and to overcome despair with hope and action. In this spirit, in this 2017 Hashivenu podcast episode, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum connects spiritual life and social activism.

Girl lighting Hanukkah candles
Girl lighting Hanukkah candles

Hanukkah Resources

Evolution of Hanukkah

A text study on the evolution of Hanukkah. What is the miracle, and what is the light?


What is the Light of Hanukkah?

Sources, ancient and modern, on the nature of the light of Hanukkah


Who Can Remember? A Hanukkah Story

An empowering retelling of the Hanukkah story that emphasizes theology and remembering rather than miracles or military might.

News and Blogs

Lights in the Darkness

Writing from Israeli during a tense period, Adina Newberg reflects on Hanukkah’s imagery of light in the darkness.