Sometimes I joke with students that I'm Jewish in an attempt to take advantage of a couple of extra holidays. Most of them look at my obviously Scottish facial hair and freckles and doubt my honesty. That's when I tell them about my great (to the seventh power) grandpa Judas and how he led the uprising and almost single-handedly created the eight crazy nights of Hanukkah.
Then I have to explain that there are two books in the Jewish holy texts called The Maccabees and often I have to explain what Hanukkah is. Usually around this point they look at me with their heads tilted to one side and say, "Really?".
But here's something I found that I think is really awesome:
If you can believe the Wikipedia people at all, they said, "In the early days of the rebellion, Judah received a surname Maccabee. Several explanations have been put forward for this surname. One suggestion is that the name derives from the Aramaic maqqaba ("makebet" in modern Hebrew), "hammer" or "sledgehammer"
So my last name is translated as "sledgehammer"? Awesome.
This explains why my oldest brother spent much of his childhood walking around with one of my dad's hammers smashing everything in his path. We worried about him for years. Now he's an architect. Go figure.