We’re now almost half way through the holiday here in Jewishland, which sometimes feels about as remote as the Arctic Circle. In any case, I found a few interesting tidbits about the holiday — some of which are courtesy of my child’s school:

  • A Talmudic debate occurred at one point between the schools of Hillel and Shammai. The latter believed that we should light all eight candles and then each day, light one less. Hillel argued for the opposite: light one candle, then two the next night and so on. He won the debate. Chanukah would be a much darker and more deliberate holiday had Shammai won.
  • Antiochus Epiphanes was the Hellenic ruler of Syria when the family Maccabee struggled against Greek culture and religion. While today we often glorify the ancient Greeks and their beautiful-looking language and ruins, the nation was once a colony that preyed on its residents like any other hegemon.
  • According to, the first time that elephants were used in war was during the Maccabean War.
  • My pals at show Harrison Ford at a Chanukah celebration in New Haven, CT. Who knew? (It’s a spoof.)

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