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Chanukah Guidance

Dear friends,

As the Chanukah is fast approaching we would like to share with you a few bullet points about the right way to fulfil this beautiful mitzvah

  • Chanukah begins on the evening of Sunday December the 6th - 25th of Kislev and continues for eight days; that means that the first lighting of candles (1 candle + Shamash- additional candle) will take place this Sunday evening, and the last lighting of candles (8 candles + Shamash) will take place on the evening of next Sunday, December the 13th.  
  • It is permitted to work during the days of the Festival of Chanukah; however women do not work and don’t do housework for at least the first half hour of the candles' burning. This is their time to take rest and think about women’s role in Jewish history generally and their impact in the struggle against the Hellenism in particular.
  • There is no obligation to have festive meals; however it is customary to celebrate by eating special meals anyway, because of the fact that the dedication of the Temple and Altar took place during Chanukah.
  • It is customary to eat milk foods because Yehudit, daughter of Yochanan the High Priest, was taken to be defiled by the Greek ruler Holofernes. She fed him cheese (to make him thirsty) and wine (to quench his thirst); and after getting him drunk she killed him. This was one of the events that sparked the Maccabean uprising. Food fried in oil is also eaten to commemorate the miracle of the Menorah. Latkes and donuts are the most common foods. Don’t overdo it!! Health comes first!!
  • It is customary for every member of the household to have one candle on the first night and an additional candle every night (1-8).
  • Any type of oil is acceptable for use in the menorah; however, it is best to use olive oil
  • The menorah should be similar to the Menorah in the Temple; refrain from using electric lights or gas lamps.
  • The light should be clear, and the wicks should not flicker
  • Regular candles are also acceptable, providing they have a single wick.
  • If a number of people are lighting in one household they should make a slight separation between their menorahs so that there is no confusion to the observer as to the number of candles.
  • Ideally, the Menorah should be placed outside the house to the left of the entrance. Since anti-Semitism was so common throughout Jewish history it became customary among may communities to place the Menorah inside the house, near the entrance or on the table. In many families it is the custom to place the menorah in a window facing the street.
  • The Menorah should have all the candles or wicks on the same level, none higher or lower than the others.
  • It is customary to have an additional candle (the shamash) with which to light the other candles and in order to use it's light.
  • The shamash should be placed in a way that shows that it is not one of the Chanukah candles.
  • Place first candle on the extreme right of the Menorah. On the second night add a candle on the left. Light the newest candle first and proceed to the right.
  • The best time to light the candles is straight after dark. In Leeds this time of the year it is around 4.30 pm.
  • It is obligatory to put in enough oil, or a long enough candle to burn for at least 1/2 hour.
  • If one forgot or was not able to light at the correct time, one may light as long as people are still awake in the house in which one is lighting.
  • One should prepare the wicks and candles etc. well before the time of lighting in order to light the Menorah at the correct time.
  • It is best to light in the presence of many people in order to publicise the miracle. If the members of the household are not at home at the beginning of the evening, one should wait with lighting the candles till they come back. 
  • On the first night three brachot- blessings are recited. "Lehadlik ner shel Chanukah", "She asa nissim" and "Shehecheyanu".
  • On the other nights only the first two blessings are said.
  • On Friday afternoon, the Chanukah candles should be lit before the Shabbat candle-lighting time. They cannot be lit too early either. That leaves a rather narrow window of opportunity; the only time to light the Chanukah candles on Friday December the 11th is after 3.00pm and before 3.25pm.
  • After the Chanukah candles were lit, then the Shabbat candles should be lit.    
  • Remember to put in more oil or bigger candles on Friday, so that they burn 1/2 hour after nightfall.
  • When lighting on Saturday night, it should be done after Shabbat is out. On Saturday December the 12th it is forbidden to light the candles or to make any preparations for lighting the candles before 4.43pm.     
  • On Saturday night theHavdalah- the conclusion of Shabbat prayer, should be recited before lighting Chanukah candles (although there are different customs this is the prevailing custom in Leeds). In Synagogue the candles are lit before the Havdalah.
  • If one is going away during the days of Chanukah , they should consult with their rabbi in order to find the best way how not to miss this beautiful mitzvah.

during the days of the Festival of Chanukahh , they should consult with their rabbi in order to find the best way how not to miWishing you all Happy Chanukah!!!

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