Many years ago, began the First Chanukah Light, the Jews lived in the Land of Israel. They had no king at that time, for their king was G‑d, the King of kings. Unfortunately many Jews stopped serving G‑d, and so they soon found themselves in the servitude of a human king. But he was not human at all, for he was a tyrant, and very, very cruel. His name was Antiochus, and he reigned in the neighboring land of Syria. So powerful was he, that no one could stop him from doing the most wicked things. Antiochus decided to make all Jews worship idols. He sent officers and soldiers throughout the Land of Israel to enforce the laws and customs of his land. The Jews were forbidden to worship G‑d in their own way, or keep any other of their most sacred customs and laws. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was defiled and stripped of its beautiful sacred golden vessels. Anyone who dared to disobey the king was immediately put to death.

Days of terror and persecution followed. Then the Jews realized that their own wrongdoing had brought the trouble upon them. They began to mend their ways, and were resolved to die rather than give up their religion. Even little boys like you cheerfully faced cruel death and scorned a life of luxury as a heathen. Then G‑d said, "My children have now suffered enough. I will rescue them!"

It was an old man, frail in body but a giant in spirit, who first raised the banner of revolt against the all-powerful king Antiochus. His name was Mattityahu the Hasmonean.

In the little peaceful village of Modin, Mattityahu lived with his five sons. When the king’s officer with a company of men came to his village to force the Jews to worship idols, old Mattityahu grabbed the officer’s sword and slew him. He called upon his sons and brethren to follow his example, and they pounced upon the vandals and slew most of them. The rest fled in terror to tell the king.

Old Mattityahu with his faithful followers withdrew to the hills. From there Mattityahu sent a message to all his brethren: "Let all faithful to G‑d follow me!" and the band of followers who were ready to offer their lives for their faith grew daily.

One day Mattityahu gathered his friends around him, and said to them: "I feel that my last day is drawing near. Let my son Yehuda lead you to victory against the enemies of G‑d. Though you may be greatly outnumbered, despair not, and put your faith in G‑d. Remember our father Abraham who preferred to be thrown into the burning furnace rather than be unfaithful to G‑d! Remember also Pinchas who risked his life for the sanctification of G‑d’s name! Remember Eliyahu the Prophet who stood up alone against the false prophets! He who answered them in their hour of peril shall answer you now. Fear not, but put your faith in G‑d. G‑d bless you and watch over you."

Soon after, Mattityahu passed away, sadly mourned by all Jews. The Jews now looked to Yehuda Maccabee to lead and guide them, and Yehuda was determined to live up to the reputation of his priestly family.

The Chanukah Light paused. The oil had run low, but the little flame struggled, almost desperately. "My time is up" she said. "Please be sure to be with us tomorrow. Happy Chanukah!"