Chanukah (also spelled Hanukah or Hannukah) is the Jewish festival of lights and feast of dedication, a joyous holiday that celebrates the miracle of one day’s quantity of oil burning for eight days in the menorah in the Temple of Jerusalem. The central focus of Chanukah is the chanukiah, the candelabra that many refer to as a menorah (though “chanukiah” is the correct term for the Chanukah candelabra). Lighting the chanukiah is a ritual that has very specific steps which differ slightly each of the eight nights of Chanukah!
[Edit]Lighting the Shamash and Saying the Blessings
Light the shamash candle. Once the sun has set (unless it’s Friday), light the shamash candle using a match, lighter, or other flame source. It’s very important to light the shamash first. The shamash is what you will be using to light the other candles, so you should never light the other candles before it.
Say the first blessing over the candles. Whenever candles are lit in a Jewish ceremony, a blessing is always said over the candle lighting. This is the first blessing that you will say on each night of Chanukah.
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Chanukah.You can sing the blessing with the traditional tune, or simply recite it. You can also say it in English if you can’t pronounce the Hebrew, though you should use the Hebrew if you can.
It’s traditional to say “amen” after each blessing has been recited.
Recite the second blessing. The second blessing thanks God for the miracle that God performed for the Jewish ancestors, and is recited every night of Chanukah after the candle lighting blessing.
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, she’asah nisim l’avoteinu, b’yamim haheim bazman hazeh.Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.
Recite the Shehecheyanu on the first night of Chanukah. If it is the first night of Chanukah, recite the Shehecheyanu after the other two blessings. The Shehecheyanu is a special blessing that is traditionally said every time you do something for the first time, or do a specific ritual for the first time in this year. Because you will be lighting the Chanukah candles for the first time this year, say this blessing on the first night, but not on the following nights of Chanukah.
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, shehekheyanu, v’kiyamanu vehegianu lazman hazeh.Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.[Edit]Lighting the Other Candles
Light the candles with the shamash. After you finish reciting the blessings, pick the shamash candle up with your dominant hand. Use the shamash to light the candle/s, going from left to right. In other words, light the newest candle first, then light the preceding candles.
Always use the shamash to light the candles. Never use an already lit candle to light the others.
Place the shamash candle back in its slot. After you finish lighting the candles, place the shamash candle back in its slot. You have just finished lighting your chanukiah!
Place the chanukiah in the window. Placing the chanukiah in the window is a way of proudly showing your Jewish heritage and traditions.
A key part of the Chanukah story is the defeat of the Hellenistic forces by the ancient Jewish Maccabees. The Greeks had taken over the ancient Jewish temple and were trying to smother the Jewish religion. This is why displaying the chanukiah and expressing your Judaism is an integral part of the holiday.
Custom says to place the chanukiah in a window to the left of the door, if possible. The chanukiah belongs on the left side of a doorway, opposite the mezuzah on the right side, so that the family can be surrounded by mitzvot (commandments) as they celebrate Chanukah.
Let the candles burn themselves out. Instead of blowing out or extinguishing the candles, let them run their course. Make sure that they burn for at least a half an hour after sunset. If you have to leave the house, time it so that they burn for at least 30 minutes after you have lit them.
If it is Shabbat, use long-lasting candles and make sure that they burn for at least a half an hour after the sun sets.
If you have to leave the house, let the candles burn for at least 30 minutes after sunset, then extinguish them for safety purposes.[Edit]Arranging the Candles
Begin at sunset of the 24th day of the month of Kislev. Chanukah begins on the same day of the Jewish calendar each year, the 24th day of the month of Kislev. Because the Jewish and Roman calendars are different, Chanukah begins on a different day each year on the Roman calendar.
Gather your family or friends just after sunset. All Jewish holidays begin at sunset, so you should get your friends or family together with you to light the candles just after the sun sets.
Including friends and family in the candle lighting ritual a very important aspect of Chanukah. A large part of Judaism is sharing the miracle of Chanukah and passing the tradition onto your children. For this reason, try to include others in the candle lighting!
The exception is Friday night, when the menorah should be lit before sunset. This is because Friday night is the start of Shabbat, or the day of rest, and lighting the menorah constitutes as work (which should not be done after Shabbat begins).
Place the shamash in the chanukiah. On your chanukiah, you should see 9 slots for candles, with eight slots on one level and one slot elevated above the rest. This is the spot for the shamash, or the candle used to light all the other candles. Place one candle in this elevated spot.
Every night of Chanukah, you place and light the shamash first before the other candles.
The word “shamash” means “attendant” in Hebrew, and its elevation away from the other candles is meant to separate it from the candles that represent each day of Chanukah. Its position also alludes to its important role of lighting the other candles.
It doesn’t matter what color candles you use. Some choose traditional blue and white candles, while others prefer differently colored candles!
The candelabra Jewish people use for Chanukah is actually a “chanukiah,” which has nine branches, not a menorah, which has seven. People incorrectly call the chanukiah a menorah, but they have become accepted as the same thing. If you wish to be technically accurate, call the candelabra a chanukiah.
Add the other candles. Every night of Chanukah, you add one more candle. On the first night of Chanukah, place a candle in the right-most slot. After the first night of Chanukah, add one candle for each night, starting from the right-most slot and going left.
For instance, on the second night of Chanukah, place the shamash candle in its slot and the candle representing the first night of Chanukah in the right-most slot. Place the candle representing the second night of Chanukah in the slot next to the previous candle (the second to the right-most slot).
On the third night, place the candles as you did on the second night, adding a fourth candle in the slot third to the right.[Edit]Tips
Place a plate or tray under the candles so that the wax does not drip onto the tablecloth.
For the chanukiah to be kosher, it must have all 8 of the “regular” candles in a line at the same height, and the shamash set apart. As long as this requirement is fulfilled, the chanukiah can be decorated any way you like. Some people even make their own as a craft project.
Eat latkes, exchange presents, and play a game of dreidel around your chanukiah![Edit]Warnings
Supervise children lighting candles, and make sure not to put the candles within the reach of a toddler or pet who might knock them over.
Keep the candles away from any articles that might catch on fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Spread a sheet of aluminum foil underneath the chanukiah so that it doesn’t drip hot wax on the table.[Edit]Things You’ll Need
Lighter or matchbook[Edit]Related wikiHows
Make Potato Latkes
Be a Respectful Non Jewish Guest at a Jewish Holiday Dinner
Put Together a Passover Seder With Non Jewish Friends[Edit]References