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Every member of a Jewish household should light his or her own menorah. In many families, the mother does not light her own menorah because her husband's lighting includes her. Children old enough to appreciate the Holiday should have their own menorah.


Originally the law was that the menorah should be placed at or near the outer part of the doorway, facing the street. The reason being to publicize the miracle. However, in the Diaspora, it has become accepted custom to light the menorah indoors. There are two equally valid customs guiding our practice of where to light the menorah indoors. Some light it at a window facing the street, others light it at the left side of an interior door, opposite the Mezuza. If one lives in an apartment building on the 4th floor or higher, there is no advantage to lighting it at a window.


Ideally one should light the menorah immediately upon nightfall. For correct practice on Friday and Saturday nights, please see the section labeled "The Sabbath of Chanukah"


The preferred way of lighting the menorah is with olive oil and cotton wicks. All other oils, wicks and candles are permitted as long as their flame does not flicker. Olive oil is preferred because it was used in the temple.


On the first night, one light is lit and every successive night another light is added until the eighth night, when all eight lights are lit. With a menorah containing eight lights, the one on the extreme right is lit first. On the second night a light is added to the left of the first and it should be lit first. The same procedure is followed every night, always adding from right to left, using a "Shamash" candle to light the menorah. On the first night, three Berachos are said before lighting.

Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Melech HaolamAsher Kidshanu Bimitzvotav Vetzivanu Lehandlik Ner Shel Chanukah.

Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam She'esa Nisim Lavoseinu Bayamin Haheim Bazman Hazeh.

Baruch Ata Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Shehecheeyanu Vekeyemanu Vihigeeyanu Lazman Hazeh

On subsequent nights, only the first two Berachos are recited.

There is a widespread custom to re-light the Synagogue Menorah each Chanukah morning with a blessing. It serves as a reminder to one who might have been unable or had forgotten to kindle his own Menorah at night.

The Sabbath of Chanukah

On a Sabbath of Chanukah, the Menorah should be lit before the Sabbath. In addition, one must make sure that at least one of the lights will burn 1 1/2 hours because the candles are being lit prior to sundown.

Torah Study and Chanukah Gelt

Since the revolt of the Hasmoneans was undertaken in defense of the Torah and its commandments, and since the miracle of the oil symbolized the "light" of Torah study, it was natural that Torah academies and their students receive special attention during the festival.In many communities, the leaders would meet during Chanukah to discuss ways and means to improve the state of Torah education.

Parents customarily distribute Chanukah gelt, money to their young children, as a reward for their past diligence in their studies and as an incentive for them to resume their studies with even more intensity to the future.Many rabbis would travel to outlying peasant communities during Chanukah to reach, preach, and exhort the people to greater study and observance.


One of the best known symbols of Chanukah is the dreidel. The letters, Shin, Hey, Gimel, Nun mean "A great miracle happened THERE." In Israel the dreidel is a bit different in that their letters mean "A miracle happened HERE!" The children were encouraged to enjoy their Chanukah evenings playing dreidel so that they could return to their Torah studies refreshed after the holiday. It is a virtually universal custom that children and even adults, play dreidel during Chanukah. Apparently this was a natural outcome of the fact that the children had the coins given to them as Chanukah gifts and they had more free time than usual.

Women and the Mitzvah

R"Yehoshua ben Levi said, "Women were also part of the miracle of Chanukah." That is because the Greeks had decreed that all Jewish maiden about to be married first submit themselves for violation to the Greek prince. The miracle was brought about by the daughter of Yochanan, the High Priest, who intoxicated the King and beheaded him, an act which rescued Jewish women from this decree.
The Shulhan Aruch rules that because of their great role in the Chanukah victory, women should abide by the custom of not doing work as long as the candles burn and they should not be lenient in the matter.