Shaye J.D. Cohen


Hasmoneans, Hellenism and Us

By Shaye J.D. Cohen

This is Hanukkah season. In Hebrew schools across the country the Hanukkah story will be told, and the story usually goes like this: The wicked king Antiochus IV Epiphanes attacked the innocent and pious Jews of Judaea, imposing Greek ways, proscribing the observance of Jewish practices and profaning the Temple of Jerusalem. Judah the Maccabee and his sturdy brothers (known collectively as the Hasmoneans) went to war against Hellenism, against the king and against those Jews who supported the king and his policies. They triumphed. In 164 B.C.E. they reconquered Jerusalem, put an end to the religious persecution, purified the Temple and instituted the festival of Hanukkah to commemorate their victory. In this existential struggle between Jews and Greeks, between Judaism and Hellenism, the Jews triumphed. According to this Hebrew school version of the events, which mirrors the popular Jewish understanding, the Hasmoneans saved Judaism from Hellenism.Read More






    Find us on Facebook!
    • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
    • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
    • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
    • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
    • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
    • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
    • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
    • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
    • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
    • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
    • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
    • Is boredom un-Jewish?
    • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
    • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
    • from-cache

    Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















    We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

    Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.