Hanukkah History / What You'll Need to Observe Hanukkah / When to Light the Candles / Where to Light the Candles / How to Place and Light the Candles / Blessings / What You'll Need to Celebrate

Hanukkah History
On the 25th of Kislev are the days of Hanukkah, which are eight... these were appointed a Festival with Hallel [prayers of praise] and thanksgiving. —Shabbat 21b, Babylonian Talmud

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem in 165 BCE after the Temple had been profaned by the Hellenistic Emperor Antiochus IV. At the time of the rededication, there was just one day's worth of pure oil left that was needed to keep the Temple menorah burning. But tradition says a great miracle happened: It lasted for eight days.

Each year, Jews light candles in their hanukkiot (Hanukkah menorahs) to symbolize the miracle. On the first night of Hanukkah, one candle is placed in the menorah. On each successive night, another candle is added. By the last night of Hanukkah, eight candles are glowing brightly in celebration of this beautiful festival.
What You'll Need to Observe Hanukkah:
  • A Hanukkah menorah with nine branches (known as a hanukkiah) – Many Jewish families have a separate Hanukkiah for each member of the family.
  • Enough Hanukkah candles for 8 nights (44 candles) or olive oil and wicks for oil-burning hanukkiahs.
  • Matches

  • When to Light the Candles:
    At nightfall.
    Where to Light the Candles:
    It is traditional to place the hanukkiah in a location visible to those outside.
    How to Place and Light the Candles:
    Place candles in the hanukkiah from right to left, but light the candles from left to right.
    • 1st night – 1 plus shamash (the candle with which you light the other candles) (2)
    • 2nd night – 2 plus shamash (3)
    • 3rd night – 3 plus shamash (4)
    • 4th night – 4 plus shamash (5)
    • 5th night – 5 plus shamash (6)
    • 6th night – 6 plus shamash (7)
    • 7th night – 7 plus shamash (8)
    • 8th night – 8 plus shamash (9)
    Recite the blessings below as you light the candles.

    (On all nights recite the following two blessings:)

    Barukh Atta Adonay Eloheynu Melekh Ha-olam Asher Kiddeshanu Be-mitsvotav Ve-tsivanu Lehadlik Ner Shel khanuka

    (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.)

    Barukh Atta Adonay Eloheynu Melekh Ha-olam She-asa Nissim La-avoteynu Ba-yyamim Ha-hem Ba-zzman Ha-zze

    (Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.)

    (This blessing is recited only on the first night:)

    Barukh Atta Adonay Eloheynu Melekh Ha-olam She-hekheyanu Ve-kiymanu Ve-higgi'anu La-zzman Ha-zze

    (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time.)
    What You'll Need to Celebrate:

  • Learn Hanukkah songs
  • Play the Dreidel game
  • Share chocolate coins known as gelt
  • Prepare fried treats such as sufganiyot (Israeli jelly doughnuts); potato latkes (pancakes) to symbolize and commemorate the miracle of the oil in the Temple.
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