Judaism

The Hanukkah Hang-up

In my service for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, one of the things I set out to accomplish this fall was to study the subject of Hanukkah in order to bring special messages on that topic.

With God’s help, I was able to do so in three churches, along with sharing the material in a Bible study group that I teach regularly—and I have greatly enjoyed the experience!

As I strive to make clear when I present educational Passover Seder demonstrations, as well, I am not Jewish by heritage, nor do I claim to have any personal background that bestows expertise in the historical, religious and cultural aspects of these issues. But, as I always say, I am a Bible teacher, and thus I have the ability to research and speak before congregations in these vital areas.

As I have studied and taught on the origin, meaning and significance of Hanukkah this year, however, I have become overwhelmed with the reality that the events of the Hanukkah story are absolutely essential to our understanding, as Christians, of the New Testament, the gospels and the life of Christ.

But this revelation has also left me pondering on a question.

Why do we seem to know so little about Hanukkah—when the elements behind it are ultimately foundational to the storyline of the Bible? It is really quite remarkable—almost shameful—that we are not exceedingly familiar with them for that reason alone. This is to say nothing of the need to learn about Hanukkah for the purpose of relating to our Jewish friends at one of their most important seasons of the year.

1633 reads

Denominational switching among U.S. Jews: Reform Judaism gains, Conservative Judaism declines

"Overall, nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults who were raised Jewish (88%) are still Jewish today. This includes 70% who identify with the Jewish religion and 18% who don’t identify with any religion but who consider themselves Jewish in some other way" - Pew

302 reads

Pew: 10 key findings about Jewish Americans

"Jews in the United States are on the whole less religious than the overall public, at least by standard measures used in surveys. But Jewish Americans participate in a wide range of culturally Jewish activities as well as traditional religious practices." - Pew

Related:

RNS: Five takeaways from Pew's massive study of American Jews

558 reads

You May Not Know Judaism as Well as You Think - Review of Separated Siblings: An Evangelical Understanding of Jews and Judaism

"Phelan, a retired theology professor and one-time president of North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, has provided Christians with one of the most engaging and comprehensive guides to Jewish thought and civilization in the last half-century." - C.Today

463 reads

Anti-Defamation League: “American Jews were targets of more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than any other year over the past four decades,”

"The Jewish civil rights group counted 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019, finding 61 physical assault cases, 1,127 instances of harassment and 919 acts of vandalism. That’s the highest annual tally since the New York City-based group began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979.: - AP

516 reads

FAQ: What Is Hanukkah?

Judas Maccabeus "liberated the Temple in 165 B.C. They immediately repaired the damage the pagans did to its sacred furnishings, destroyed and rebuilt its desecrated altar, and rededicated the Temple to the worship of God (Yahweh). A tradition emerged that they found only one container of olive oil not contaminated by the pagans, enough to burn for one day. However, the flame miraculously gave its light for eight days." - Acton

785 reads

Pages