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Hanukkah (sometimes spelled Chanukah) meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, is the eight-day festival during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Hanukkah begins each year on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.

In 5778/2017, the holiday began at sundown Tuesday, December 12, and concluded eight nights later, Saturday December 20.

The modern home celebration of Hanukkah centers around the lighting of the hanukkiyah a special candleabra for Hanukkah; foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), together with special songs and games.


Ritual for lighting Hanukkah candles

The candles are placed in the Hanukkiyah from right to left.

They are kindled from left to right, lighting the “new” candle first each night.

Two blessings are chanted or recited every night of Hanukkah.

The first is a blessing over the candles themselves.

The second blessing expresses thanks for the miracle of deliverance.

A third blessing – the She-he-he-yanu prayer, marking all joyous occasions in Jewish life – is chanted or recited only on the first night.





Barukh Attah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh HaOlam Asher kid-shanu b’mitz-vo-tav  v’tzivanu l’had-lik ner shel Hanukkah.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, by whose mitzvot we are hallowed, who commands us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
Listen to Cantor Davidson sing this blessing



Barukh Attah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh HaOlam
She-asah nissim la-avo-teinu ba-ya-mim ha-hem baz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old, at this season.
Listen to Cantor Davidson sing this blessing



On the first night only, recite this blessing:


Barukh Attah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh HaOlam
She-he-he-yanu v’kiy-y’ma-nu v’hi-gi-anu laz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling to reach this season.
Listen to Cantor Davidson sing this blessing



Hanerot Halalu – These Candles (a reading to share after the candles are lit)

We kindle these lights because of the wondrous deliverance You performed for our ancestors. During these eight days of Hanukkah, these lights are sacred; we are not to use them but only to behold them, so that their glow may rouse us to give thanks for Your wondrous acts of deliverance.

First Night: She-he-he-yanu – The First Step

Keva: On the second through the eighth nights of Hanukkah, we recite only two blessing, l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah and she’asah nisim. Only on the first night of Hanukkah do we recite a third blessing, She-he-he-yanu: “Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, for granting us life, for sustaining us, and for helping us to reach this day.”

Why is it only on the first night that we recite the blessing for having reached this moment? Shouldn’t we feel grateful for having arrived at the second through eighth nights of Hanukkah? Aren’t those nights every bit as special? Making the decision to begin a journey is uniquely challenging. Taking the first steps on a new path is often the time we need the most support. Our tradition teaches:Mitzvah goreret mitzvah. With each mitzvah we perform, with each inspired choice to transform our lives, the next one becomes easier.

Kavannah: Hanukkah offers us the opportunity to become in touch with our gratitude to God, the Ultimate Source of support, love, and inspiration. From that inspired place, we can direct our gratitude to those people we turn to for support when we seek to begin a new way in life. As we light the first candle tonight, let us think about and express our gratitude to people who enable us to take the plunge, the crucial first step.

Shabbat and Hanukkah:

On Friday, light the Hanukkah candles first; then light Shabbat candles. On Saturday, make Havdalah to end Shabbat, and then light the Hanukkah lights.