Most people agree that the best times to plan Jewish Israel tours are usually around the holidays when there is increased cultural and religious activity all over the country. Hanukkah, being one of the most important Jewish Holidays, is usually a top contender in this respect and is definitely a good time to go on Jewish heritage tours. So how much do you really know about the holiday?
For starters, even though Hanukkah usually coincides with Christmas and is usually celebrated around the same time, it has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas and started way before the latter was even conceptualized. On the contrary, Hanukkah is meant to celebrate the victory that the Maccabees obtained over their Greek-Syrian oppressors. The oppressors ordered the Jews to worship their Greek gods and when they refused they were forced to fight back for the sake of their beliefs.
In Israel there is a giant Menorah located in Jerusalem that cost 3 million dollars to set up. There is a Menorah inside the Holy Temple that is made purely of gold and most Jews still prefer golden Menorahs but this does not mean that the gold has anything to do with it and even a simple small Menorah from the dollar store should still be good enough for the celebrations.
The dreidels that most people associate with Hanukkah celebrations also have nothing to do with the meaning of the celebrations. They date back to the time of oppression when the Greeks forbade the Jews from worshiping their God and learning the Torah. However, Jewish children still formed their own Torah groups and so they would use the dreidels to disguise themselves as a group of sinful gamblers going about their activities whenever a Greek soldier happened to wander by.