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Happy early Hanukkah to all of our readers who celebrate this 8-day festival! This year, Hanukkah begins on Sunday, December 22. Many people are familiar with the name of this holiday, but are not aware of its’ origin or significance. As we continue our trip around the world of online learning, let’s take a look at the origins of Hanukkah, as well as the prevalence of online learning in the country of Israel. 

Festival of Lights

The origins of Hanukkah come from several different sources. Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Jewish holy text, the Torah, because the events occurred after the books were written.  Sometime between 200 BCE and 168 BCE, Judea (present-day Israel) came under the control of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Antiochus outlawed the Jewish religion. In 168 BCE, Antiochus and his soldiers invaded Jerusalem, massacring the Jewish people and desecrating their Second Temple by building an altar to Zues and sacrificing pigs upon it. This led to an uprising against Antiochus, led by the Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons.

After Mattathias’s death in 166 BCE, his son Judah took over the army. Judah and his army eventually drove the Syrians out of Jerusalem. In celebration, Judah ordered his followers to cleanse the temple, rebuild the altar, and light the menorah. According to the Talmud, which is a central text of Judaism, there was only enough oil to keep the menorah lit for one day, but it continued to burn for eight days. This miracle which is celebrated throughout the eight nights of Hanukkah. 

Important Education 

Like the United States, education is compulsory from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Due to years of European anti-Semitism outlawing Jews from owning land, farming, or accessing educational opportunities, the Jewish culture places high importance on education. The post-secondary job market in Israel is extremely high-tech and competitive.  This leads many Israeli parents to sacrifice their own comfort and financial security so that their children can attain the highest level of education possible. The high numbers of Israeli adults who hold a post-secondary degree is evidence of these sacrifices. 

Also like the U.S., many Israeli colleges and universities such as Tel Aviv University offer online courses. The government subsidizes most college courses. Students who have served in the military receive additional financial aid. Companies such as Britannica Knowledge Systems and Edusoft offer online training for working adults. The fields of finance, sciences, flight simulation, language learning, and first responder preparedness all offer online training. Several other companies offer e-learning opportunities for school children, such as games and interactive simulations. As Israel’s job market continues to grow and become more high-tech, e-learning is seen as a valuable opportunity to gain knowledge and skills.


Join us next week as we continue to travel around the world of e-learning to China!