Imagine: a foreign superpower invades an independent, sovereign nation, assumes its governance, bans the practice of its religion, desecrates its religious buildings, and subjugates its native population. A small band of guerilla fighters begins a war of attrition, terrorism, and rebellion against the much larger, more powerful, well financed, and better armed forces of the invaders. Against all odds, the rebels win, institute a new government, with the leaders of the rebellion as the rulers, and reestablish the religious rituals. As time passes, the formerly gallant saviors evolve into a dynastic, despotic monarchy, which is subsequently overthrown by a new superpower.
What does this story describe? The plot line for the latest installment of Star Wars? Events ripped from the latest (or not so latest) headlines? A parable of how power corrupts? A morality tale warning heroes that they are not exempt from the corrosive power of ego?
Perhaps, but what we also have are the elements contained in the holiday of Chanukah and the years following the successful revolt of the Maccabees against the Hellenistic Syrian Seleucid Kingdom and its ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes IV .
How did we get from the refusal of Mattathias and his five sons to bow down before idols and the humans who worshiped them to a holiday replete with Chanukah bushes, eight days of presents, houses trimmed with blue and white blinking lights, electric candles, potato pancakes, donuts, and chocolate coins?
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