Chanukah (13. – 20. December 2017)
Chanukah begins this year on the evening of Tuesday, 12 December. We celebrate the beginning of Chanukah with a short service, followed by a fun dreidl and donuts evening and a l’chaim sponsored by Len and Lali Gerber. Please bring your chanukiah and candles.
A second chance to light the chanukiah with us will be on Friday 15 December as part of our Kabbalat Shabbat service.
The last candle is lit on Tuesday night, the 19 December.
Chanukah (alternately spelled 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 Chanukah centers around the lighting of the chanukiah, a special menorah for Chanukah; foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts); and special songs and games.
Candles are lit on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, one the first night, two the second, and an additional candle on each subsequent night. The candle for the first night is placed at the far right of the chanukiah; on each subsequent night, another candle is added to the left. An extra candle, designated as the shamash, is lit first, then used to light the others after the blessings are recited. Each night the candles are lit from left to right, starting with the new candle. The last blessing (Shehechiyanu) is recited only on the first night. The last candle is lit on Sunday night, the 13th December.
What is a dreidel? The word dreidel derives from a German word meaning “spinning top,” and is the toy used in a Chanukah game adapted from an old German gambling game. Chanukah was one of the few times of the year when rabbis permitted games of chance. The four sides of the top bear four Hebrew letters: nun, gimmel, hey, and shin. Players begin by putting into a central pot or “kitty” a certain number of coins, chocolate money known as gelt, nuts, buttons or other small objects. Each player in turn spins the dreidel and proceeds as follows: nun – take nothing; gimmel – take everything; hey – take half; shin – put one in. Over time, the letters on the dreidel were reinterpreted to stand for the first letter of each word in the Hebrew statement “Neis gadol hayah sham,” which means “A great miracle happened there” and refers to the defeat of the Syrian army and the re-dedication of the Temple. In Israel, one letter on the dreidel differs from those used in the rest of the world. The shin has been replaced with a pey, transforming the Hebrew statement into Neis gadol hayah po, which means “A great miracle happened here.”
Blessings for Chanukah
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חַנֻכָה.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with Mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Chanukah lights.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לָאבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהם בַּזִּמַן הַזֶּה.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wonders for our ancestors in days of old at this season.
Add every night: We kindle these lights because of the wondrous deliverance You performed for our ancestors. During these eight days of Chanukah, these lights are scared; we are not to use them but only to behold them, so that their glow may rouse us to give thanks for Your wondrous acts of deliverance.
First night only:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.
See also Mishkan T’filah page 572 and 668.
Chag Chanukah Samei’ach ~ חג חנוכה שׁמח
A joyous Chanukah to all
More about Chanukah can be found here: http://www.reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/hanukkah