At Temple Emanuel we observe Hanukkah with a Shabbat Service and sometimes a Havdalah or evening service led by our Religious School children.  Last year we had a wonderful dinner celebration where we lit the Hanukkiyah Menorah and celebrated with over 100 of our closest friends!  A minor Jewish holiday, typically Jews everywhere celebrate religious freedom for all with symbolic foods, games, small gifts and the lighting of the Menorah for seven or eight nights. Check out the information below for more information on this “Festival of Lights.”


Hanukkah, meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration 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. The modern home celebration of Hanukkah centers around the lighting of the hanukkiyah, a special menorah for Hanukkah; foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) sufganiyot (jelly donuts); and special songs and games.

Many Jews choose to celebrate this holiday with their families and children by performing a mitzvah or other form of social action. They may ask their children to give one night of gifts to another child who is less fortunate, prepare and serve food for a homeless shelter or volunteer at a low-income school. 

When lighting candles for this festival, candles are added to the Hanukkiyah from right to left but are kindled from left to right. The newest candle is lit first. (On the Shabbat of Hanukkah, kindle the Hanukkah lights first and then the Shabbat candles.)

Light the Shamash – the helper candle – first using it to kindle the rest of the Hanukkah lights. On the first night of Hanukkah as we light the candles we say or sing:


Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.