Chanukah is a joyous holiday, which is solely dedicated to the freedom of one's own religious expression. The message of Chanukah is the message of personal religious liberty. Historically, Chanukah is perhaps one of the more important celebrations of the Jewish calendar year, for it commemorates an event directly recorded in historical archives.
The story of Chanukah begins in the year 167 B.C.E. in the City of Jerusalem in the province of Judea. At that time Judea was the vassal state of the Assyrian-Greek Empire under the control of Antiochus Epiphanes. - Antiochus had decided that in order for his empire to remain unified, it should adopt a uniform cultural society. He therefore, directed that all his subjects become participants in the Hellenistic "culture". All vestiges of non-Greek culture had to be removed. Consequently, the Jews were no longer able to worship at the "Great Temple" in Jerusalem. The Jews were forbidden any kind of religious expression. A number of Jews refused to allow the Assyrian-Greeks to dictate "proper religious experience" and to decide for everyone the tenets of "true belief.
Led by a man called Judah "the Maccabee" a group of rebels waged a guerilla war against the armies of Antiochus. In the year 165 B.C.E. Judah and his followers drove the Assyrian Greeks from the Temple and formally rededicated it to the Jewish Heritage. Legend has it that there was just enough oil to fuel a lamp for one day, but miraculously the lamp kept burning for eight days. Realizing that a true miracle was taking place, Judah declared an eight-day festival of rededication and it was called Chanukah. Our "Chanukdias" proclaim to the world the light of truth, kindling within the Jew and non-Jew the spirit of religious freedom. Chanukah, with its meaning and message thus transcends Judaism and becomes a festival for all mankind.