Menorahs

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Menorahs Guide

The Menorah is a nine branched candelabra that is lit for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Hanukkah celebrates two miraculous events, one being the defeat of the Jews over the Greeks. The Jews were persecuted by the Greeks and not able to celebrate their religion freely. The Jews were much smaller than the Greeks in numbers, but by a miracle they overcame this factor and won. The second miracle of Hanukkah is that after the battle, the Jews searched through their destroyed Holy temple to find oil to light a candle. There was only enough oil to last one day, but by a miracle it lasted eight days.

These miracles are remembered and celebrated during Hanukkah by lighting one candle on the Menorah each night and reciting a blessing.

The Holiday of Hanukkah

There are many traditions and Jewish laws surrounding the holiday of Hanukkah. One of the commandments is to display the Menorah prominently in your window to fulfill the mitzvah of publicizing the holiday.

Traditions associated with this holiday include gift giving and preparing foods cooked with oil such as latke potato pancakes and sufganiyot, jelly filled doughnuts.

Menorahs

Menorahs can be made out of sterling silver, copper, pewter, marble, and glass materials. Traditional Menorahs are silver and feature a base stand where the branches emerge from. On these Menorahs, the Shamash lighting candle is placed in the center on a higher level. More modern Menorahs can be found in a multitude of colors and designs, including whimsical figurines and Jewish star shaped candlesticks. The modern style Menorahs come in different styles and shapes, as some do not have a stand or base like the classic candelabras.

Candlesticks

There is a specific method for lighting the Hanukkah candles on the Menorah. Each Menorah has one raised branch in which the candle, referred to as the Shamash, sits and serves to light the other candles.

One candle is lit the first night and an additional candle is lit for each of the other seven nights of the holiday. The candles are lit from left to right and the blessing of Hanerot Halalu is recited. On the first night of Hanukkah, the Shehechiyanu is recited. There are many other songs that are traditionally song during Hanukkah, including Ma'oz Tzur.

Menorah candlesticks differ from regular Shabbat candlesticks in that they are usually taller and thinner to fit in the holders of the Menorah. Many candlesticks are designed in different colors and it is customary to use candlesticks made in Israel for this holiday.

Matchboxes and Holders

The eight candles of the Menorah may not be lit by a lighter or match, but only by the Shamash. It is customary to use a decorative matchbox or match holder for this holiday, as the matches are used each night.

Matchboxes are usually made of wood and feature a design such as the Western Wall in Jerusalem or a picture of a Menorah. The matchbox is usually displayed next to the Menorah in the window for the duration of the holiday.

More Information

For more information on the holiday of Hanukkah, Hanukkah Candles, or Match Boxes and Holders, feel free to browse through World of Judaica's Hanukkah learning page or contact our Judaica experts with any questions or concerns.

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