Twenty-two hundred years ago, a small band of traditionalist Jews called the Maccabees rose up in revolt against their Hellenist ruler, Antiochus IV, who had prohibited the practice of Judaism and desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing pigs at the altar. The relatively minor but much-celebrated holiday of Hanukkah commemorates a miracle that occurred in the aftermath of this revolt, when a small amount of sanctified olive oil burned for eight days straight, giving the Jews time to bless a new batch and reconsecrate the temple. These days, most Jews celebrate Hanukkah by playing dreidel, frying latkes, and lighting menorahs. But in the last 30 years, a new ritual has emerged: the menorah parade. Spearheaded by the Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement, which has been in the news a great deal since the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the menorah parade is the biggest thing to hit Hanukkah since Adam Sandler tried to rhyme gin-and-tonic-ah with marijuani-cah.
Click here for a slide-show essay on Hanukkah's menorah parades.