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Hanukkah, an eight-day winter holiday, is derived from the solstice celebrations of ancient people. Hanukkah, which means “dedication” is based on the legend of Judah Maccabee and his followers successfully resisting the imposition of Greek culture and religion, and the resulting rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
For Humanistic Jews, Hanukkah is a celebration of human courage, integrity, and hope. The success of the Maccabee’s revolution was not due to pious pleas or tearful entreaties, but by decisive action, expert planning, and sheer guts. Humanistic Jews view Hanukkah as an opportunity to celebrate the courage of ancient and modern day heroes.
Humanistic Jews light candles on a traditional hanukkah menorah (hannukiah), but we recite words that are inspiring and meaningful for our lives today.
As we light our Hanukkah candles, let us say:
Barukh haor baolam.
Barukh haor baadam.
Barukh haor baHanukkah.
Blessed is the light of the world.
Blessed is the light within humanity.
Blessed is the light of Hanukkah.
Download “The Eight Lights of Hanukkah,” a contemporary reading of the symbolism behind each candle, here (PDF).