How the Catholic Church Helped Save Hanukkah

Here’s a piece that I wrote for ChurchPOP on the Catholic connection to Hanukkah. It’s called How the Catholic Church Saved Hanukkah. Here’s how it begins:

Tuesday night marked the beginning of Hanukkah. As BuzzFeed recently demonstrated, a lot of Christians are ignorant as to what Hanukkah is. That’s a shame, not least of all because the story of Hanukkah is closely intertwined with Catholic history.

Here are two facts that you might not know about the Catholic connection to Hanukkah.

The first of these facts is without the Catholic Church, Hanukkah wouldn’t be the same. In that point, I quote Rabbi Hillel Hayyim Lavery-Yisraeli,

Today Hanukkah is perhaps the best-known Jewish holiday throughout the world. However, despite its popularity, Hanukkah is the holiday with the least textual basis. The story of Hanukkah does not appear in the Tanakh. And while there is a Talmudic tractate named for the one-day festival of Purim (“Massekhet Megillah”), only a few pages of the Babylonian Talmud (B. Shabbat 21b-23a) are devoted to Hanukkah, including one small paragraph describing the historical event, and a few pages dealing with the laws of lighting Hanukkah candles. 
The Hanukkah tale in the Talmud only tells part of the story: only the miracle of the oil is mentioned. The story of the military victory, described in the siddur as the deliverance of “the many at the hands of the few”, is entirely left out. To complete our knowledge of Hanukkah we need to consult the Books of the Maccabees contained in the “Apocrypha,” a collection of books which have some similarities to the books of the Tanakh, but were not canonized by the Sages.

Read the full post here.

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