Hi, I’m Wyatt and I happen to be a Mormon. A few weeks ago I was tasked with giving a lesson at church about fellowshipping people of other faiths. I was looking for a way to make my lesson impactful and original. I was watching an episode of New Girl, then inspiration struck. Schmidt was giving himself a pep talk in the mirror, he referred to himself as Maccabee. Ten months earlier in an episode of “This Is Us” I learned Hanukkuh is about a group of people who dubbed themselves the Maccabee’s. Up to this point, everything I knew about Hanukah came from TV. When I was five I felt pretty bummed for non-Christians when “The Puzzle Place” taught me that not everyone celebrates Christmas.
But…My ears perked up when Schmidt over-enunciated the term Maccabee. Which led me to figure out WTF a Maccabee was and eventually rolling the whole Hanukkah story into my lesson. Please excuse me tooting my own horn but I crushed it. Now me and the six people who were into my lesson have a decent amount of respect for the holiday.
Christianity has a fair amount overlap with Judaism when it comes to the old testament. But the Hanukkah story comes from Maccabees 1&2 and you’re not gonna find them in your King James Bible. Maccabees is an apocryphal book. To paraphrase D&C section 91: there’s Some valuable stuff in the Apocrypha, it’s not pertinent that you learn any of it, but there’s also stuff that should be avoided. (It’s probably a good idea for you to read the section for yourself )
I quickly gave up on trying to find a translation of Maccabees that I could understand. Luckily Rabbi Sara Y. Sapadin’s “Kid-Friendly Version of the Hanukkah Story” was extremely readable. As I read the story, I Imagined myself as a guest at Hanukkah dinner. Listening to parents educate their children about the story of the Maccabees and the wicked King Antiochus. Explaining why they light a candle for each night of Hanukkah. I take it all in as shove another Latke into my stomach. Rabbi Sapadin’s retelling makes points about religious freedom and that in like we sometimes must rely on a higher power, notions I can totally agree with.
I’m not going to buy a menorah or start spinning a dreidel. The day Hanukkah hits I will probably be attempting to be inspired by reruns of “30 Rock” or “The Good Place”. But I’m very grateful that I took a minute to obtain some understanding from another religion. And if you take the time to read Rabbi Sapandin’s summation hopefully you will have a moment where the world feels just a little smaller, Happy Hanukkah!