A couple of weeks ago I was very honored to be asked to say a few words about religious liberty at a menorah lighting hosted by the Chabad Jewish Center of Snohomish County.
For anyone unfamiliar with Hanukkah, this holiday is the Jewish community’s celebration of a miracle that occurred at a time when the Greeks who were ruling over Judea were denying Jews the freedom to worship. King Antiochus IV Epiphanes looted and desecrated the Temple, deposed the Jewish High Priest and replaced him with a priest more sympathetic to the king, and eventually outlawed the practice of the Jewish religion. In response to these outrages, Judah Maccabee led an armed rebellion that liberated the Jewish people from Greek rule.
The Temple was purified and rededicated, but there was only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, that small supply continued to burn for eight days, long enough for the Temple to be resupplied. The annual eight-day celebration commemorates this event with ceremonial lighting of menorahs and sharing of foods fried in oil.
The Freedom Foundation was asked to take part in the menorah lighting in Snohomish County because one of the principles we stand for is the constitutional protection of citizens' religious liberty. America's founders understood the dangers of restricting others' religious practices and one of their foremost concerns is that our nation would be a place where no faith community should have to worry about facing the sort of oppression that Antiochus imposed on the Jews. Part of our role here at the Freedom Foundation is to make sure that our nation and our state live up to that original promise of religious liberty, and we were thrilled to take part in this joyous celebration of that principle.
(Please jump to 3:08 to hear my remarks)