Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lights, Action, Hanukkah -- Chanukah or Hanukkah Guide Part 4

Just some quick links for those of you who are interested in lighting Hanukkah candles to celebrate the holiday.

It doesn’t count toward the “mitzvah” of lighting your own Hanukkah candles, but this site has an on-line example of the candle lighting with prayers and audio to help you learn how to pronounce the Hebrew.

About.com has good information on the customs and traditions involved in lighting a menorah here.

Some things to pay attention to before you "light up":

The candle holder used at Hanukkah to be "official" must have eight candle holders (one for each night) on the same level in a straight line. The ninth, shamash or servant or helper, candleholder should be raised or lowered above those eight.

The word menorah just refers to the traditional seven-branched candleholder used throughout the year. It has been adopted by the general public to refer to the Hanukkah candleholder which others call a hanukkiah (or hanukkiyah.)

The first candle is placed at the right (as you stand facing the menorah). On following nights the new candles are added from right to left but are lit from left to right, so the "newest" candle is always lit first.

The candles should be allowed to burn at least 30 minutes. It is traditional to stop the household bustle and reflect or mediate on the candles. The light should only be used to reflect on the story of Hanukkah and can not be used for any other purpose (such as illumination.)

In the Eastern European Jewish tradition, it is the custom for each family member to light his or her own menorah. In other Jewish traditions, however, it is the custom to have only one menorah for the entire family.

To read more of my Chronicles of Chanukah, please click here for the history and here for a recipe for latkes (potato pancakes). For instructions on how to play dreidel, click here.