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Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah

Lighting the Hanukkah candles is an easy activity that the whole family can participate in. On the first night, three prayers are said: over the lighting of the candles, over the miracle of Hanukkah, and for a new experience. On the remaining seven nights, only the first two prayers are said.

Which candles do you light? Facing the hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah), put a candle in the right-most spot on the first night. On the second night, candles are placed in the right-most spot and the one to its left. Keep adding additional candles to the left for each night. Which candle do you light first? You light the newest night’s candle first, so you start by lighting the left-most candle available. (In other words, fill in the menorah from right to left, but light the menorah from left to right.) You light the menorah by lighting the shamash (helper candle - usually the center of the menorah or otherwise distinguished from the others), then using it to light the other candles.

We have the instructions and blessings (in Hebrew, transliteration and English) in a handy, one-page format to help you bring this Hanukkah practice to your home. Download here (pdf).

Hanukkah (known by many spellings) is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It is marked by the lighting of a menorah and the eating of fried foods. Hebrew for "candelabrum" or "lamp," it usually refers to the nine-branched candelabrum that is lit for the holiday of Hanukkah. (A seven-branched candelabrum, a symbol of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, is a symbol of Judaism and is included in Israel's coat of arms.) Hebrew for "helper," a candle used to light all the other candles in the Hanukkah menorah. A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.

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