Chanukah, O Chanukah, Come Light the Menorah!

Posted on November 13, 2018 by Sarah Gluck & Lisa Friedman

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights (chag ha-urim), comes to illumine our homes and give us a spiritual and emotional lift during the dark days of winter. Chanukah celebrations include lighting the chanukiah, the special eight-branchmenorah, each night; eating foods fried in oil, such as latkes (l’vivot) and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot); singing songs; playing games, especially the dreidel game; and exchanging gifts. The glow of the candles, the warmth and good smells in the kitchen, the fun holiday activities, and the joy we take in the company of family and friends is something very special to look forward to.

Chanukah means “dedication” in Hebrew, in commemoration of the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and rededication of the great Temple in Jerusalem. A son all our Jewish holidays, Chanukah is a great time to rededicate ourselves to helping to make the world a better place. This Chanukah (December 2-10), please consider incorporating tzedakah into your celebrations by donating to a cause you care about or participating in a program or activity that will make a difference in someone’s life. There are organizations all over the world and right here at home that could really use our help.

This year, TBE’s annual Shabbat Chanukah service is on Friday, December 7, at 7:00 p.m. This is always an extra special service, when everyone brings their family’s favorite hanukiah and candles (7 this year, including the shamash) to light up our sanctuary, warm our hearts, and — sweetest of all — formally welcome our newest Religious School students with the Ceremony of Consecration.

Excellent resources for Chanukah (and every area of Jewish life) are available online at and so many other sites. Click here to learn more about the holiday, practice the blessings with text and audio, pick up recipes and suggestions for activities, and find inspiration for celebration and tzedakah.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving and joyous Chanukah — chag urim sameach! May your hearts be warmed and your lights shine bright.

Chanukah Blessings

Candles are added to the chanukiah from right to left and are kindled from left to right (i.e., light the newest candle first). On the Shabbat of Chanukah, light the Chanukah candles first and then the Shabbat candles.

Light the shamash—the helper candle—first, using it tokindle the rest of the Chanukah lights, then say or sing:

Ba-ruch a-tah, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, me-lech ha-o-lam,a-sher kid’sha-nu b’mitz-vo-tav v’tzi-va-nu l’had-lik ner shelCha-nu-kah.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who hallows us with mitzvot, and commands us to kindle the Chanukah lights.

Ba-ruch a-tah, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, me-lech ha-o-lam,she-a-sah ni-sim la-a-vo-tei-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hembaz’man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,who performed wonders for our ancestors in days of old atthis season.

On the first night only, add this blessing:

Ba-ruch a-tah, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, me-lech ha-o-lam,she-he-che-ya-nu v’kiy’ma-nu v’hi-gi-a-nu laz’man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.


Originally published in the November-December 2018 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.