The Museum of

       Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays




Chanukah Lamp (Menorah)

Chanukah Lamp (Menorah). Germany. c. 1870.
B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, gift of Fred and Lorraine Sulmer in memory of Bella and Alfred Hopfer.
Photo 1998 Universe Publishing and B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum.


Chanukah rituals

Chanukah is celebrated by a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the eight-day holiday. Some are family-based and others are communal. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals. Chanukah is not a "Sabbath-like" holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain from activities that are forbidden on the Sabbath. People go to work as usual, but may leave early in order to be home to kindle the lights at nightfall.

The primary ritual, according to Jewish law and custom, is to light a single light each night for eight nights. As a universally practiced "beautification" of the mitzvah, the number of lights lit is increased by one each night.

The reason for the Chanukah lights is not for the "lighting of the house within", but rather for the "illumination of the house without," so that passers-by should see it and be reminded of the holiday's miracle. Accordingly lamps are set up at a prominent window or near the door leading to the street.


Typically three blessings (Brachot, singular Brachah) are recited during this eight-day festival. On the first night of Chanukah, Jews recite all three blessings; on all subsequent nights, they recite only the first two. The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit depending on tradition. On the first night of Chanukah one light (candle, lamp, or electric) is lit on the right side of the menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first candle and so on, proceeding from right to left each night.

Two blessings are recited as the Chanukah candles are lit. On the first night, the shehecheyanu blessing is said as well.

The blessing for the lighting of the candles:

Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav vetzivanu l'hadlik ner (shel) hanuka.

Translation: "Blessed are You, LORD, our God, ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah lights[s]."

Blessing for the miracles of Chanukah:

Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, she‑asa nisim la‑avoteinu ba‑yamim ha‑heim ba‑z'man ha‑ze.

Translation: "Blessed are you, LORD, our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time." next ►►

--text adapted from Wikipedia

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