Hanukkah is known as The Festival of Light. And the Hanukkah menorah, or hanukkiyah in Hebrew, is the star of this holiday. The Hanukkah menorah is one of the most widely produced and artistically embellished Jewish ritual objects. The hanukkiyah’s purpose it to draw attention to the miracle of the oil so it is customary to place the lighted menorah near a window where it is visible. (For safety, electric or battery powered hanukkiyot are totally fine).
Traditional menorahs use either olive oil with cotton wicks or candles of paraffin or wax. The eight candles representing each night of the holiday are in a straight line of the same height, with the shammash or helper candle raised above or separate from the rest. The flames are lit from left to right, with the newest candle lit first. In many families, each family member gets to light their very own menorah too!
Looking for a quick lesson on how to light the candles and say the blessings? Use the downloadable "cheat sheet" below or scroll down for an in-depth lesson plus .mp3s to help you learn to say the blessings.
Open this easy to use sheet on your tablet or print a copy to make candle lighting a snap.
Placing The Candles On The Menorah
On the first night of Hanukkah, there are usually only two candles on your hanukkiyah: the shamash in the center, and the first night's candle. Each night, add a new candle before lighting.
Now, here's the tricky part: candles are placed in the menorah from right to left but candles are lit from left to right. "Left to right, that's how you light!"
Listen to all of the blessings in Hebrew and English (spoken and sung by Lori Hoch Stiefel)
After you place the candles in the menorah, but before you light them, say these blessings:
In English: Dear God, Creator of our world, thank You for giving us rules that make our lives special and for teaching us to light these Hanukkah candles.
In Hebrew: Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
In English: Dear God, Creator of our world, thank you for performing miracles for our ancestors, long ago and now.
In Hebrew: Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, sheh'asa nisim lavoteinu bayamim haheim bazman hazeh.
First night blessing:
On the very first night of Hanukkah, only, there's a special extra special blessing that families say.
In English: Dear God, Creator of our world, thank you for keeping us alive so we can celebrate this important moment.
In Hebrew: Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigi’anu lazman hazeh.
TIP: Here's a special bonus recording with another version of shehechyanu:
The 2020 Quick Guide to Hanukkah
How to Make An Oil Menorah
The Hanukkah Story
November 24, 2020