c 140 BCE- the Maccabees defeated the vastly more numerous and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV, who had tried to forcefully uproot the beliefs and practices of Judaism from the people of Israel. The victorious Jews repaired, cleansed and rededicated the Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim to the service of Hashem.
All the Beit HaMikdash's oil had been defiled by the pagan invaders; and when the Jews sought to light the Beit HaMikdash's Menorah (candelabra), they found only one small cruse of ritually pure olive oil. They lit the Menorah with the one-day supply, which miraculously, burned for eight days, until new, pure oil could be obtained.
Also on this day -- 1,100 years earlier -- Moshe Rabbeinu and the Jewish people completed construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that accompanied them during 40 years of wandering in the desert. The Mishkan was not dedicated, however, for another three months. The Sages tell us that the day of Kislev 25 was then "compensated" 12 centuries later -- when the miracle of Chanukah occurred and the Beit HaMikdash was rededicated.
In commemoration, the Sages instituted the 8-day festival of Chanukah, on which lights are kindled nightly by Jews around the world to recall and publicize the miracle of the oil, and its message that continues to illuminate our lives today.
December 12, 1882- The Jewish city of Rosh Pina was organized in the Galilee, Palestine.
December 6, 1937- Nazi German youth leader Baldur von Schirach, accompanied by a large entourage, was visiting Damascus. There was little doubt that the Syrian Arab youth seemed to be particularly vulnerable to this latest Nazi effort to spread their propaganda throughout the entire Middle Eastern area. Shots were fired at the Beit Alfa and Kfar Baruch settlements.
December 22, 1941- Weeks of rampage ended with the deaths of 32,000 Jews who were killed in Vilna, Poland.
December 15, 1947- The Jordanian Arab Legion laid siege to Yerushalayim/Jerusalem. The Arab Legion surrounded Yerushalayim and isolated its 100,000 Jews from the rest of the Israeli population. By March 1948, the city was under full siege, and in May, Jordan invaded and occupied east Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and driving thousands of Jews into exile. The Arabs proceeded to destroy all 58 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, and used Jewish gravestones on the Mount of Olives to build roads and latrines. The Western Wall would be off-limits to Jews (in spite of the cease-fire agreement granting freedom of access to holy places), restored again with Israel's victory in the 1967 war.