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WHY DO WE LIGHT THE HANUKIYAH (MENORAH)?

Placing the Hanukkah menorah in our window each year makes a powerful statement that we too would stake our lives on the right of every human being to live a life of religious freedom. Those tiny lights reflect the brightness of our own spirits, of our pride in being just a bit different, but also of our being willing to take a stand for every people‚Äôs God-given right to be different.

HOW DO WE OBSERVE HANUKKAH TODAY?
Hanukkah is almost entirely a time for celebration. The candles can be lit each night at home. Songs can be sung. Games can be played. It's good to tell (or read) the story of Hanukkah. And tzedakah is a wonderful Hanukkah tradition. In some families, one night is set aside to give gifts to the needy (rather than receive them ourselves), perhaps taking a trip to a local soup kitchen or children's hospital to deliver some heartfelt goodies.

HOW DO WE PREPARE THE HANUKIYAH (MENORAH)?
Place the candles in the hanukiyah (menorah) from right to left (as you face it). Then light them in the opposite direction. It's an important gesture, teaching that as no candle is more important than any other, we must be tolerant and kind to people of all sizes, shapes and colors.

HOW MANY CANDLES DO WE USE?
On the first night of Hanukkah, one shamash ("helping" candle) is used to light one candle. On the second night, one shamash lights two candles. And so forth, until the eighth night, when one shamash lights all eight candles.

WHERE DO WE PLACE OUR HANUKIYAH?
If possible, your hanukiyah should go near or in a window. In this way, passers-by can see the burning candles, fulfilling the mitzvah of peer-soom ha-neys, "publicizing the miracle of Hanukkah." Remember, the Maccabean struggle against Antiochus was for religious freedom; Hanukkah today celebrates the religious freedom we enjoy here in America. Placing your hanukiyah in the window celebrates (and demonstrates) that freedom!

WHEN DO WE LIGHT OUR CANDLES?
Just after nightfall. But if you need to leave the house early, or you get home late, light them when you can. As a Reform Jew, look for ways into, not ways out of, our beautiful traditions.

WHAT DO WE ACTUALLY DO WHEN WE LIGHT THEM?
Tradition has us say the blessings first, then light the candles (perhaps while singing Maoz Tzur). Some families find it meaningful to recite the blessings while the candles are being lit. The first two blessings are read (or sung) each night of Hanukkah. The third blessing (She-he-khe-ya-nu) is used on the first night only.

Sat, June 25 2022 26 Sivan 5782