Amid all the 'what do we say at holiday time so people are honored and not offended', several of my friends have mentioned that unlike Christmas or even Yule, they have no real idea what Chanukah is about.

Most folks do not realize that there is a very prominent Jewish presence in my lineage and traditions. The details and how and who and such is not for the public but the fact remains that in my closest branches on my family tree are intertwined, Irish Catholic, Romanian Gypsy, Russian and Polish Jews, and more. We are all an extraordinary conglomeration of so many cultures and peoples. (Makes one wonder how ANYONE thinks they can judge another for who they are - but I digress).

SO... Chanukah in a tiny nutshell (with more info available upon request via message or via reputable accurate links that I can provide).... The Greeks were religiously and culturally oppressing the Jewish people in Jerusalem. They stormed the Temple and desecrated it, breaking their altars and other sacred items and spaces in many ways. The war that ensued was a tiny battalion of Jews - the Hasmoneans - against the great Greek army and the Hasmoneans prevailed. THE FEW OVER THE MANY. The (supposed) weak over the mighty. They returned to their temple and began to clean it and ready it for re-dedication. The needed to light the menorah which was a constant sacred item - not just for one holiday as it is nowadays. That menorah had 7 branches (while now there are 8 for the 8 days of this miracle plus one higher than the rest which is the 'shamesh' - the one used to light the others) - but they could not light the menorah as only the purest olive oil overseen and sealed by the High Priest could be used for this sacred task. It took 8 days to make the oil - to refine and purify it... and they could not find any. Distraught that the temple would lay empty, the people not yet able to return to worship and have sanctuary there as according to their traditions, they just about gave up... and then one bottle was found... enough to burn for just ONE day - they lit the menorah with this oil knowing that they would then be 7 more days without until more could be made but better to light now than not at all. The miracle is that the one bottle of oil - enough for one day lasted the FULL EIGHT DAYS needed until new oil was ready.

The energies and traditions and lesson of this season... miracles happen when we hope and believe and do our best all at once... that the few and apparently weaker CAN overcome the most aggressive and violent oppressors, and that light is a Divine gift given to us in many ways to light our way and rekindle the belief in our heart.

As a side note.. the game of 'draydel' - the wobbly square shaped toplike toy with a Hebrew letter on each side was a game children played to look like they were just playing when the Greeks would pass by....they were really studying their heritage but would hide books or stop lectures as their oppressors approached and would appear to just be playing innocently and harmony with their rules of no Torah study. The letters on the sides are the acronym for the Hebrew words that state 'a great miracle happened there' and in Israel itself the last letter is different as there it depicts a great miracle happened HERE'.

Miracles are available to us all - and it takes our hand in partnership with Divinity .... by any name you call it.

Happy Holidays to ALL.