How Exile Changed the Meaning of Hanukkah, and How the Return to Zion Is Changing It Again

December 3, 2018 | Meir Soloveichik
About the author: Meir Soloveichik is the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel and the director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University. His website, containing all of his media appearances, podcasts, and writing, can be found at

When Jews first began celebrating Hanukkah in the 2nd century BCE, they recited psalms of thanksgiving, but did not kindle lights. Only after the Temple was destroyed some two centuries later did lighting the menorah become not just part of the holiday, but its hallmark. Meir Soloveichik explains why this was so and how the modern return to Zion is transforming the meaning of Hanukkah yet again. (Video, 38 minutes.)

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