1] Hanukkah candles are lit each of the eight evenings of Hanukkah, including Shabbat (Friday evening), at which time they are lit before Shabbat candles.

2]  Like a Hebrew text that reads from the right to left, candles proceed from right to left on the menorah.  The first candle is placed on the menorah’s right side as we face the menorah.  On each successive night, a candle is added so as to proceed to our left.

3] However, the newest candle is lit first. For example, on the fifth night the fifth candle is lit first, then the fourth candle, then the third candle, etc. Thus, candles are added to the menorah from right to left, but lighting proceeds from left to right. Lighting the newest candle first is a way of honoring the newest candle and recognizing that every additional day of Hanukkah light constituted a distinct miracle.

4] The blessings “…le-had-lik ner shel Hanukkah” and “…asher a-sah nissim…” are both said each night of Hanukkah. She-he-che-ya-nu is added only on the first night. The blessings in transliteration are:

Ba-ruch ata A-do-nai El-lo-hei-nu melech ha-o-lam

a-sher  kid-sha-nu  b’mitz-vo-tav  v’tzi-va-nu

l’had-lik  ner  shel  Chanukkah.

Ba-ruch ata A-do-nai El-lo-hei-nu melech ha-o-lam

a-sher a-sah nis-sim l’a-vo-tei-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem ba-z’man ha-zeh.

For the first night:

Ba-ruch ata A-do-nai El-lo-hei-nu melech ha-o-lam

she-he-che-ya-nu  v’kee-y’ma-nu  v’hee-gee-a-nu  la-z’man ha-zeh.

The blessings may be learned from The Hebrew Corner website at this link.


After lighting Hanukkah candles, the family can recite or sing Maoz Tzur “Rock of Ages”:

Rock of Ages let our song
Praise your saving power
You amidst the raging foes
Were our sheltering tower
Furious they assailed us
But your strength availed us
And your word broke their sword
When our own strength failed us

Ma-oz tzur ye’shu-a-ti
Le-cha na-eh le’sha-bei-ach
Tik-kon beit te-fi-la-ti
Ve-sham toda ne’za-bei-ach
Le’et ta-chin mat-bei-ach
Mi-tzar ha-me’na-bei-ach
Az eg-mor be-shir miz-mor
Cha-nu-kat ha-miz-bei-ach


…or Al ha-Nissim “For the miracles”:  “For the miracles, salvation, courageous acts, victories that You performed in ancient days at this season, in the days of the Hasmonean high priest Mattatyahu ben Yohanan and his sons, when the wicked empire of Antiochus Epiphanes sought to end the Torah and its laws from our ancestors, but You defended them in their hour of distress, fought their fight and judged their judgment, delivering the strong over to the weak, the many over to the few, the unjust over to the just, making Your name great and holy in the world, and saving Your people Israel. And then Your people came to the sanctuary of Your house, removed the debris of its inner sanctum, repurified Your holy place, and rekindled lights in Your holy courts, and fixed these eight days of Hanukkah to give thanks, and to praise Your great name.”

…or read a Hanukkah story such as “Rededication: The Art of Hanukkah” by Adar Darnov with Rabbi Allen Darnov (go to www.adardarnovart.com or purchase one at The Hebrew Corner); “Rededication” narrates the major historical and legendary points of the Hanukkah story through comic book format and digital painting.

6] Dreidle is also played while the Hanukkah candles burn low. Divide chocolate gelt coins equally among the players. Start the pot with an even number of coins. Spin nun and take nothing from the pot. Spin gimmel and take the whole pot. Spin hay and take half the pot. Spin shin and put two coins into the pot.

7] It is customary for every member of the family to have and light his/her own menorah (or hanukkiyah in Hebrew).

8] Families may like to make a menorah out of clay, wood, stone, toy blocks or Lego. There are dozens of websites with instructions for making real or decorative menorahs. Tradition requires that the eight candles which are kodesh, “holy,” all stand on the same plane and in a line, with none higher or lower, and none forward or back. This signifies that the light of each night of Hanukkah is equal in honor and holiness to the light of every other night. However, the breach of this rule is quite regular, and it is quite common to find decorative and inspiring menorahs constructed with candles of varying heights.