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MileChai --> Judaica --> Judaism --> How to Light a Hanukah Menorah

Chanukah is the most known Jewish customs and yet is minor Jewish holiday. Jews light Hanukkah candles to remember the miracle of the Maccabees' victory over the Greeks and the miracle of the oil that should have lasted one day and lasted for eight.

Time need to light your menorah will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 1 - You will need a Menorah or you can make your own.  And a match, candles or olive oil.

You will need a couple of terms. A list of them can also be found at the end of this page. Chanukah can be spelled Hanukkah or called Festival of Lights.  A Hanukkah Menorah is a Hanukkiah and has 9 candles.  The tallest candle is called the "Shamash." The Shamash candle is used to light the other eight candles since it is forbidden to use the Hanukkah lights for any purpose other than viewing.

Step 2 - On the sunset of the 24th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, is when the Menorah is first lighted.

Ideally the menorah should be lit as soon as the sun goes down but if you can't do it then, it can be done later in the night. Everyone in the family should be present when the menorah is lit and the candles or oil should burn at least 45 minutes. If candles go out you may relight them except on Shabbos. On Friday the menorah should be lit before sundown and before the Shabbos candles. 

Step 3 - Blessings

All three blessings are said on the first night, and on the rest only the first two are recited.

Blessing one: 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 Chanukah. To pronounce it in Hebrew, here is the transliteration: Baruk Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melek Ha-olam Asher Kiddeeshonu Be-mitzvasov Vi-tsivonu Lehadlik Ner Shel Chunukah.

Blessing two: Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season. Transliteration: Baruk Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melek Ha-olam She-oso Nissim La-avoseynu Ba-yyomim Ho-heym Ba-zzman Ha-zzeh.

Blessing three: This blessing is said only the first night (the other two are said every night of Chanukah) 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. Transliteration: Baruk Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melek Ha-olam Sha-hekheeyonu Ve-keeyeemonu Ve-heeggee'onu La-zzman Ha-zzeh.

Each night you light the candles and recite the blessings, increasing the number of candles in the menorah to correspond with the night. Although the candles are put in beginning on the far right and working to the left, the last or the candle to the far left is always lit first and continues from left to right.

Step 4 - Now you are ready to light the Chanukah Menorah

On the first night, the candle or oil globe goes on far right (as you face the menorah). Another candle is used for the Shamash (helper candle). Say the three blessings below and then light the candle or oil using the Shamash candle.

Remember on Friday night you light the Menorah first, and then the Shabbat candles.

Many Jewish families have the tradition to recite Hanerot Halalu while lighting the candles and to sing Maoz Tsur once the candles have been lit.

To make clean up easier, line the table or window sill with tin foil to catch the candle drips. Either one menorah can be lit or everyone can light their own. If you have numerous menorahs in a window sill, keep in mind the heat from the candles could possibly cause the window glass to crack...keep the menorahs as far away from the glass as possible.

Any kind of candles can be used in the menorah as long as they will burn for the required 45 minutes or longer after sundown. Olive oil can be used in oil menorahs and can be purchased at your local grocery store if necessary.

Latkes (potato pancakes) and soufganyot (sugared or jelly filled doughnuts) are traditional Chunukah foods.

Some Laws Concerning Menorah and Chanukah

Chanukah is a Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of lights. Chanukah is a Hebrew word meaning "dedication". It is also spelled Chanuka, Hannukah or Hanukkah. The first evening of Chanukah (called Erev Chanukah) starts after the sunset of the 24th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. As in Jewish tradition the calendar date starts at sunset, Chanukah begins on the 25th. also see:  Chanukah rituals - Dreidel Rules - Chanukah Cards - Kislev

Hanukkah Menorah: also called a Chanukiah

Mitzvah - Commandment from God

Dates that Chanukah falls on in the Gregorian calendar
Chanukah begins on the evening prior to these dates.

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