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Judith – the woman of valor in the Hanukkah story – figures very prominently as a famous heroine in Jewish tradition. So much so, that her Hebrew name, Yehudit (or Yehudis) is a popular traditional Jewish name for girls, I.e., they are specifically named after this very same woman. Her slaying of the evil Greek general, Holofernes, is credited as being the decisive factor in the miracle of the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks in the events that led up the miracle of Hanukkah.

The story of Yehudit is the source of a traditional Jewish custom, to eat cheese during Hanukkah in commemoration of the meal of wine and cheese that Yehudit served to the Roman general, which put him to sleep and gave him over into her brave hands.

A non-Biblical source for this is the “Book of Judith,” which was originally written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek, but the original Hebrew text was subsequently lost. Here is the story posted on

The Story of Yehudit – The Woman Who Saved the Day

The following list of references to Yehudit in traditional rabbinical commentaries on the Talmud, and a source in Jewish religious law, is copied from [my insertions are in square brackets]


While the Book of Judith is a non-Jewish source (or, perhaps, a non-Jewish translation of a lost Jewish source), the story of Yehudis is firmly part of the Jewish tradition:
– Rashi alludes to the story of Yehudis as a reason why [Jewish] women are obligated in the mitzvah [i.e., commandment] of [lighting candles in the menorah on] Chanukah: because the victory was brought about through a woman ([Commentary by the Rishon-era rabbi] Rashi on] Talmud [Tractate] Shabbos 23a);
– The Book of Judith doesn’t mention it but we [Jews] have a tradition that Yehudis fed Holofernes cheese in order to make him thirsty. For this reason, some have the tradition to eat cheese on Chanukah ([Commentary by the Rishon-era rabbi] Ran, [on Talmud Tractate] Shabbos 10a);
– The prevalent practice is for [Jewish] women to refrain from performing acts of labor while the Chanukah lights are burning, at least for the first half hour (which is the minimum amount of time that the lights must burn). This is in the merit of Yehudis’ actions ([cited in the rabbinical text] Magen Avraham 670:1). [A major book of Jewish religious law, written by Rabbi Avraham Aveli Gombiner, born in 1637.]
So, even though we lack an existent Jewish narrative of the story of Yehudis, there is a strong oral tradition and, anachronistic misrepresentation of the enemy leader notwithstanding, a non-Jewish book that retells the story pretty much as we have it [handed down in Jewish tradition].