Paul Golin, executive director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, recently posted his eight reasons his family celebrates Hanukkah. Among them:
In the Book of Maccabees, God is not a participant. All accomplishments were people-powered, though the Maccabees were certainly religious people, zealots even. Today, rabbis in all denominations outside ultra-Orthodoxy are willing to admit that the Hanukkah “miracle”—one day’s worth of Temple oil lasting eight days—was tacked on centuries later to downplay the military accomplishments of the eventually corrupted Hasmonean Dynasty. As far as religious miracles go, Hanukkah is about as awe-inspiring as seeing Jesus’s face in your toast. The real miracle was that a backwater province defeated a regional superpower in a fight for their religious freedom. It’s more the Jewish Fourth of July than the Jewish Christmas.
I became involved in humanistic Judaism after meeting my wife, and she introduced me to the candle lighting and songs. So I agree with Paul’s reasons.
Rabbi Chalom wrote a post detailing who the Maccabees were, and how the roots of Hanukkah predate the Maccabee uprising.
Off to light another candle.