This book is probably the most comprehensive and detailed treatment of the festival of Chanukah in the English language. It commences by placing the festival in its historical context by surveying the history of the Jewish people from Abraham until Alexander, and proceeds to explain the origin, nature and ramifications of Hellenism and the spiritually corrosive effects it had on Judea. Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen employs his customary analytical approach in looking at the classical sources afresh in order to describe the stages of the Maccabean revolt and the reoccupation and cleansing of the Temple. A major question that he addresses is how such a unique military victory could have been so down-played in Jewish tradition to the extent that the miracle of the oil, rather than the courageous Maccabean exploits, has become the popular rationale of the entire festival.The author provides an encyclopaedic treatment of the festival, embracing its development and history, philosophy, theology, rabbinic insights into the festival, its laws (including women's obligations) and customs, its celebration in home and synagogue, its observance among exotic Jewish communities, as well as quiz questions and activities for the younger reader.
Rabbi Jeffrey M Cohen has distinguished himself in the field of religious affairs as a broadcaster, lecturer, writer, and reviewer. A graduate of the Yeshivot of Manchester and Gateshead, Rabbi Cohen received a master's degree in philosophy from London University and a Ph.D from Glasgow University. He is the author of several books, including Understanding the Synagogue Service, Understanding the High Holyday Services, A Samaritan Chronicle, Horizons of Jewish Prayer, Moments of Insight, Blessed Are You: A Comprehensive Guide to Jewish Prayer, and Prayer and Penitence: A Commentary on the High Holy Day Machzor, as well as over 200 articles. He is a member of the cabinet of the chief rabbi of Great Britain. He currently serves as the rabbi of Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue, the largest Orthodox congregation in Great Britain. He and his wife, Gloria, reside in London. They have four children and five grandchildren.