We are in the midst of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, during which Jews celebrate the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (the “Beit Ha-Mikdosh” or House of the Holy).
Until 200 BCE, Judea had been ruled by the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, but was taken over by King Antiochus III of the Seleucid Greek Empire.
King Antiochus III permitted the Jews to practice their religion, but in 175 BCE, his son, Antiochus IV, invaded Judea, killed many Jews after they revolt while he was away at war.
Upon his return, he led a massacre. In the space of three days, eighty thousand Jews were eaither killed or sold into slavery.
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He plundered the Temple, stopped Jewish practices, and installed a statute of Zeus in the Temple.
The Jews, led by the Jewish priest Mattisyahu and his sons, rebelled and, after more than three years, retook the Temple.
The Talmud says they re-lit the Holy Menorah using a small vial of undefiled oil that miraculously lasted for seven days, later giving rise to the Jewish “Holiday of Lights.”
More than seven hundred years later, Mohammed was born and during his lifetime, Islam came into being. Muslims built a mosque on the roof of the Jewish Temple.
Today, the Palestinian people and most of the Muslim world seek to deny Jewish history and to once again deny Jews access to their holiest site, claiming that it is a Muslim site.
Many around the world, including in the West, unfortunately accept the baseless allegation that Jews have no connection to the site in Jerusalem on which the Temple wall still stands.
Unfortunately, we Jews well know that history has a bad habit of repeating itself.
Especially during this holiday, we pray that we continue to be permitted access to our holiest site and to practice our religion without fear or condemnation.