Chanukah Blog

Chanukah - Written by Talia Goldberg, Community Shlicha


Talia: Joy, what should I write about this week for my blog?

Joy: Maybe write about Chanukah and modern orthodox feminism in Beit Shemesh?

Talia: I don't know, I don't think that’s exciting because in Orthodox Judaism women are supposed to light the Chanukah candles since we were part of the miracle.


Talia: Oh wait, a Jewish holiday that women were part of the miracle? I'm definitely going to write about that.


So yes, when you think about Chanukah most think about the Maccabees, some oil, candle lighting, donuts and latkes. You probably don't think about the women when you think of Chanukah, but I'm glad you're reading this since it is important! Women weren’t the focus of the stories when I was in school like the Maccabees are in the story about Chanukah. Even now, women are far from equal in society but now women are one step closer to becoming the president of the USA. So let me tell you the stories of women in Chanukah stories so I can help balance your education.


The first story is about Judith. She capitalized on her beauty by making her way into the enemy’s camp. She then lured the General Holofernes into his tent and made him thirsty by giving him salty cheese. To quench his thirst, Judith offered him wine until he got drunk. When he passed out, Judith then cut off his head with his own sword, then snuck back home bringing along his severed head. By killing the general, Judith saved her city from attack by the Assyrians.


The second Hanukkah heroine, Hannah, appears in the Second Book of Maccabees. She martyrs herself (after watching her seven sons do the same) at the hands of the Greeks, who kill them for refusing to eat pork. In some versions of the story, Hannah is killed by the Greeks, while in others she commits suicide after the last son is killed. In all tellings, however, she is lauded for supporting and encouraging her sons to sacrifice themselves rather than violate the Jewish law of kashrut.


So this hanukkah, please think of the feminine heroes/ Maccabiyot and not just the Maccabees! Let’s light our candles for change and equality, because we still have a long way to go.