Freedom, Dedication, and Miracles
Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) is about the freedom to celebrate our traditions. In the second century BCE, Israel was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to erase our culture and force the people of Israel to accept Greek pagan beliefs. Many Jews were killed trying to maintain our ancient traditions.
But there were those who fought back. A small group of poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, rose up against the Greek empire and against all odds defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth.
Thankfully today the Jewish people are free, but oppression continues for the billions of farm animals throughout the world. Standing up and showing compassion for animals is the modern day Jewish rebellion against the horrendous practices of animal agriculture. We consider the freedom that the Maccabees brought to the people of Israel during that time as we celebrate Hanukkah free from animal cruelty on our plates.
When the Maccabees drove the Greeks from Israel, we reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and rededicated it to the service of G‑d. That is why the name of the holiday is Hanukkah, which means dedication in Hebrew, a perfect time to rededicate ourselves to our original plant-based diet and create a kinder, healthier, more sustainable world.
As they were rededicating the Temple and lighting the Menorah, they found only enough olive oil to last just one day. Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the oil lasted for eight days. This was one of the many miracles of Hanukkah. We celebrate Hanukkah for eight nights and light an eight-candle menorah to commemorate the miracles that G-d did for us during that time.
But the miracles do not end 2000 years ago. They continue today with the activists and advocates who speak out for the lives of sentient beings being slaughtered every day. They continue with the revolutionary healing powers of a whole-foods vegan diet, reversing chronic diseases and bringing people back to life. And they continue with the agricultural transformation of plant-based food systems, saving our world from environmental disaster.
The Jewish vegan movement is growing and mobilizing positive change throughout the world. Come celebrate Lights and Latkes with us this Hanukkah season in New York, DC, and LA on December 17, 22, and 23, and experience the liberating power of this holiday through 100% plant-based food. If you cannot be there in person, feel free to recreate the plant-based Hanukkah spirit in your home with these delicous recipes.