Making Chanukah Meaningful

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Making Chanukah Meaningful

        Kindle the Chanukah Menorah on each of the eight nights of Chanukah. Use olive oil or paraffin candles large enough to burn until half an hour after nightfall.
        Use a Shamesh' (service candle) to kindle the lights and place it on its special place on the Menorah.

As you kindle, recite the blessings:

Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-heinu Me-lech Ho-olom Asher Ki-de-sho-nu Be-mittz-vo-sov, Ve-tzi-vo-nu, Le-had-lik Ner, Shel Cha-nu-kah.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by commandments, and commanded us to light the light of Chanukah.

Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom Shee-o-so Ni-sim La-avo-sei-nu, Ba-yo-mim Ho-heim Bi-zman Ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.

The following blessing is said only on the first evening (or the first time one kindles the lights this Chanukah):

Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-no, E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom, She-heche-yo-nu Ve-ki-mo-nu Ve-he-go-o-nu Liz-man Ha-zeh.

Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season.

All members of the family should be present at the kindling of the Chanukah lights. If so desired children may kindle their own Chanukah menorah. Students and singles who live in a dormitory or in their own apartments, should kindle Menorahs in their own rooms.

On Friday afternoon the Chanukah lights are kindled before the Shabbat candles are lit. From the time the Shabbat candles are lit until the Shabbat ends and the Havdalah (separation between Shabbat and weekday) prayer is recited, the Chanukah Menorah should not be relit, moved, or prepared. On Saturday night the Menorah may be lit only after the Shabbat ends.


"The many into the hands of the few"
Chanukah celebrates The deliverance of the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few...and the wicked into the hands of the righteous' (Siddur)
Antiochus of Syria ruled over the land of Israel during the period after the death of Alexander the Great. He set out to Hellenize the Jews by forbidding Torah observances and forcing upon them the idolatrous practices of pagan Greece. Antiochus was backed by a force of thousands of soldiers.

The Maccabees
The Jews staunchly resisted the Syrians. They united under the banner of the faithful Jewish family, the Chashmonayim, to fight Syrian oppression. Brave Jewish fighters, called Maccabees, waged an incessant battle to drive the enemy from the land.

Miracle of Chanukah
Against overwhelming odds they succeeded. The Syrians fled and Jerusalem was liberated. The Temple that had been defiled by pagan Greek rites was purified and rededicated. The Menorah, the candelabra, which symbolized the Divine Presence and spiritual light was rekindled with undefiled olive oil that had been discovered in the Temple. Miraculously, the one day supply burned for eight days, until new pure oil could be produce.

Kindling the Menorah 

Today, we joyously celebrate Chanukah by kindling the Menorah for eight days, to remind us that with G-d`s help, we can overcome all obstacles and that the righteous will ultimately triumph.

Thought to Ponder
The Chanukah lights symbolize the spiritual light of Torah and Mitzvot. They are kindled after dark, illuminating the home to demonstrate that one should not be discouraged by the prevailing darkness', for even a little light dispels a lot of darkness.

Illuminating our environment
The Chanukah lights should be kindled in such a way that their light can be seen outside. This indicates that it is not enough to illuminate oneís own home with the light and warmth of Torah; but that it is also necessary to illuminate the outsideñ the neighborhood and community at large.

Adding Light to Our Life
Another salient point about Chanukah lights is that the light of the previous night is not sufficient. Every night we add a new light teaching us that we should never self satisfied our religious observance. We must grow everyday and continuously add more goodness and holiness to our daily lives.
Like many Jewish holidays, Chanukah is a home celebration. We light the menorah, eat latkes, sing songs, and play a special game called Dreidel.' In Yiddish, dray means ìto turn'. A dreidel is something that spins and turns. In Hebrew we call a dreidel Síveevon
A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top. Each side has a Hebrew letter. The letters are Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Shin.
These letters stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Shom. In English this means:
A great miracle happened there.' In Israel the letters on the dreidel are Nun, Gimel, Hay, and Pay. Notice the change from Shin to Pay. Which means: A great miracle happened here.' Here in the land of Israel.' For us, there means there in Israel.'

The four Hebrew letters make it possible to play a lively Chanukah game. Each player places some raisins, candies, nuts or money into a kitty. Now, spin the dreidel and follow the instructions. May the player with the best and longest spin win.

Nun means nothing. You win nothing. You lose nothing.
Gimmel means you take all.
Hay means you win half of everything in the kitty.
Shin means you lose. Better luck next time!

Who Made the First Dreidel?
During the time when the Jews were banned from learning Torah by the Greco-Syrian rules, students still gathered to learn. But in their hands they would hold a four-sided top to pretend that they were playing a game of chance. In this way, they fooled the soldiers who came to ìlook in' on their gathering!

Where to Light the Menorah
It is the custom to place the Menorah on a window sill facing the street. There should be enough light in the room so that the light of the Menorah is not used for illumination since the Menorah may not be used for any purpose other than celebrating the great miracle that occurred.