film Emperors and Rebels: The True Story of Hanukah
by the Producer, Asaf Golan
as opening remarks at University of Central Florida
on November 30, 2004
I am often asked
why Hanukah? I was born on Hanukah and that I suppose made me wonder
more about it.
But before I
began the documentary a Jewish film producer heard I was writing a
novel about the Maccabees. He asked me Why did we fight against
the Greek culture? Its such a beautiful culture. I told
him, You would not say that if you knew about their culture.
Let me give you
an example by what I mean. The Greek and Roman societies are almost
exactly the same. A Roman historian named Tacitus said: They
(the Jews) have introduced circumcision to show that they are different
It is a crime among them to kill any newly born
debate aside, in the Hellenistic culture, if you were a newborn child
and blind or physically deformed, mentally retarded, a product of
an adulterous affair, or maybe youre just a girl --- you would
be taken to the market, or the city gates and left there exposed.
If someone wanted
to adopt a child they might pick you up. If they wanted a slave, you
might be chosen. But if you died from the heat, the cold, hunger,
thirst, from the bites of a hungry rabid rat, well - that was all
One reason why
the Jews were hated in Grecian cities was because they would pick
these children up and raise them. Here is what a Greek or Roman would
say to such a person: "What is good must be set apart from the
good for nothing.
This was the
Hellenistic culture. Let me emphasize that this was not what the Maccabees
fought against. The Maccabees fought the Kings decrees forbidding
us the Sabbath rest, our dietary laws, and circumcision rights. When
these decrees were recalled (after the death of Antiochus)
most of the Jews stopped fighting. The Hasmoneans
however continued the fight, this time to achieve political independence.
They believed that without political independence another tyrant would
come and do the same thing--forbid us the right of circumcision, as
did in fact happen in 130 BCE which generated the Bar
to the 2004 UCF Hanukah page)