This week we celebrate Hanukah, the miracle of the one-day supply of oil lasting eight nights. It also commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple. It is a wonderful holiday that provides Jewish children with a winter holiday full of presents, rituals, songs, comfort food, games and family time. It is a holiday that is more fully embraced by Reform Jews who want to provide their children with a Christmas-like holiday than by the more observant Jews. Orthodox Jews still see observing the celebration as an important mitzvah, but Hanukah is not among the most important holidays. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and even observing the Sabbath are all more significant.
The miracle of the oil and the rededication of the Second temple came about thanks to the Maccabees. In Hebrew school, I was taught that the Maccabees were the guerilla warriors who fought against the Seleucid empire. It is easy and fun to root for the ingroup against the outgroup. But it wasn't just a war against the Seleucid empire.
The other group that Maccabees fought against were the Jews who were adopting Hellenistic Judaism. According to I, Maccabees, Mattathias, the leader of the Maccabees, started the rebellion by killing a Hellenistic Jew. Hellenistic Jews were the Jews who tried to adopt the local customs. The Maccabees who opposed them wanted to keep the congregation strictly separate from all foreign peoples.
It is somewhat amusing that one of the most popular holiday of Reform Jews is one which celebrates the results of a civil war in which a historical parallel to Orthodox Jews slaughtered the historical parallel to Reform Jews.