Chanukah, also called "the Festival of Lights" is the holiday in which we light candles for 8 days, commemorating the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for 8 days while it was supposed to burn for only one day. Chanuka takes place each year on 25 Kislev of the Hebrew calender (November-December), which this year will occur on...
Learn more about Chanukka by following the links below.
The story of Chanukkah
The story of Channukah dates back more than 2,000 years ago, when the Jewish people of Judaea were being ruled by a brutal Greek king named Antiochus. The Jewish people rose up against the king, restoring their Temple, removing the Greek idols and returning to the practice of their monotheistic faith. This holiday is post-biblical and was instituated by the sages after the miracle performed by God for His people. the word Channukah means "dedication"? Referring to the restoration of the Temple by the Maccabees after they defeated the Greeks? Unlike the monotheistic Jews, the Greeks practiced a pagan faith and had filled the Holy Temple with numerous idols. The Jews cleaned up their Temple, fixed the broken alter and removed all the Greek idols. Then, they went to light the eternal lamp to rededicate the Temple. There was only enough oil to last for one night, and the process of refining more oil would have taken a long time. Miraculously, however, the oil burned through eight nights.
Lighting candles of CHanukkah
The ritual associated with Channukah is lighting the candles on the chanukiah (The eight-branched Mennorah-candelabra that is used on Chanukkah). Like many other faiths, the Jewish holiday of Chanukah brings light into the darkest time of the year.
How To place candles on and light The Ckannukiah? We place the Shamash , servant candle (the candle we use to light the Chanukah lights) first and then, We place candles of Channukah in the Channukiah from right to left, but we light the candles from left to right.
The shamash is lit first each night and is used to light all the other candles. This is because we're forbidden to actually use the Chanukah lights for anything, even to light another candle.
The Chanukkiah (Channukah Mennorah) is lit at nightfall (except on the Sabbath, when the candles are lit immediately before sunset so that the Sabbath candles may be lit afterwards) and the lights should remain illuminated for at least thirty minutes past dark. Historically, olive oil was used to light the menorah, but today most people use brightly colored candles. Many cities in the United States, Israel and elsewhere around the world sponsor the public lighting of large-scale menorahs in town squares and other prominent locations.
We always light the Shamash first. Then, we say the blessings (there are 3 blessing to say on the first day and only two on all other days).
These are the blessings:
1. Baruch Attah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam Asher Kidde-shanu Be-mitzvo-tav Ve-tziv-vanu Le-hadlik Ner shel Chanukkah. (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light).
2. Baruch Attah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam She-assa Nissim La-avoteinu Ba-yamim Ha-hem Bi-z'man Ha-zeh. (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time).
On the first night of Chanukkah, we add: 3. Baruch Attah Adonaï Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam She-heche-yanu Veki-ye-manu Ve-higi-yanu Laz-man Ha-zeh (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion).
Then, we use the Shammash to light the candles.
On the first night of Chanukah, the candle on the far right of Chanukkiah is lit. Each night, an additional candle is lit, beginning from left to right, until all eight candles shine brightly on the final night of Chanukah.
It is customary to sit by the Chanukah lights and sing traditional Chanukah songs.
It is customary to place the chanukiah in a window, so that the lights may be seen by people passing by? This tradition is intended to "illuminate" -- or remind people about -- the miracle that happened on Chanukah.
Custums of Chanukkah
During this holiday, children typically play with a dreidel, a spinning top which contains four Hebrew letters. These letters are the initials of the Hebrew sentence Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, which translates as 'A great miracle happened there.' Among Sephardic (Jews of Spanish or Portuguese descent) families, feasts and competitive games are typically organized for the enjoyment of the children. Traditionally, on Hanukkah children are also given gifts of money (gelt). Hanukkah, for many Jews, has become an occasion where gifts are exchanged between all members of the family.
Links on Chanukkah