Mattisyahu, a brave old man,
From the famous Hasmonean clan,




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By Debbie Zober and Ilana Phillips

Look in the window of the front wall,
There stands a Chanukiah, proud and tall.
Its eight small candles burning bright,
With faith and hope and spiritual light.
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights is here,
But why do we celebrate year after year?

Our story starts many centuries ago,
With a crazy king, as bad as Pharoah.
Antiochus was King of the Syrian Greeks,
But alas, he had some very mean streaks.

The land of Israel was under his rule,
To all the Jews he was oh so cruel.
To G-d they weren't allowed to pray,
"Gods are made of stone," he'd say.
He forbade them from observing the Sabbath day,
And practicing their rituals in the Jewish way.
Those who disobeyed ended up dead,
Why? Because the king was off his head.
Could it be worse? Isn't that enough?
How could he do such terrible stuff?
The Jews looked on with tears on their faces,
As enemies destroyed their holy places.
They put pigs and stone gods in the torah's place,
Can you believe it? It was such a disgrace!

SMASH! They began to break, loot and steal,
All that they could touch and feel.
Now the Jews had nowhere left to pray,
Except in their hearts where G-d did stay.

One by one the Jews gave in,
And bowed down before the king.
But then there came a turn of fate,
Which Antiochus did not anticipate...

Mattisyahu, a brave old man,
From the famous Hasmonean clan,
Won the hearts of many Jews,
And his request they could not refuse:
"Whoever is for G-d, let him come to me,"
And slowly, but surely, he made them see,
Their enemies had to be put in place,
Or else they'd destroy the whole Jewish race.

Along with his five sons, Mattisyahu led the way,
He fought for freedom till his dying day.
Then Judah led his faithful group,
The Maccabbees were his famous troop.

Judah and the Maccabbees were very brave,
They climbed a mountain and hid in a cave.
A rebellion was planned - they led small attacks,
Fought for their people - never turning their backs.
Slowly but surely they won their fights,
And were joined by more Jews with similar plights.
Till finally their enemies lay down their swords,
And left the kingdom in all their hordes.

Peace was restored to the land of the Jews,
But wait! Not so was not all good news.
Inside the temple, oh my...what a fright!
Jewish eyes burned with tears at the sight.
Of the holy temple in such a state,
Could it be restored, or was it too late?

The Jews scrubbed and cleaned until it shone,
At last, they thought, we are done.
Then they prepared the menorah to light,
But there was no oil with which to burn bright.
Just then a miracle - a small jug was found
With some oil in it, lying on the ground.
They picked up the jug and took off the top,
Making sure not to spill even a drop.

Now in those days there were special ways
To make olive oil, it took eight whole days.
In the jug was enough for just one,
'Twas time for another miracle to come.
That little bit of oil burned for eight whole days,
And the temple was restored by the light of its rays.
A great miracle happened there,
So we light Chanukiot in homes everywhere.


For more articles on Chanukah, see our Chanukah archives


from the December 2007 Chanukah Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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