Chanukah Meaning

The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication,” and is thus named because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple. Also spelled Hanukkah (or variations of that spelling), the Hebrew word is actually pronounced with a guttural, “kh” sound, kha-nu-kah, not tcha-new-kah.


What Chanukah Commemorates

In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of mitzvah observance and belief in G‑d.

Against all odds, a small band of faithful but poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G‑d.

When they sought to light the Temple's Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks. Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah.

Read the full story of Chanukah.


How Chanukah Is Observed

At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting. The menorah holds nine flames, one of which is the shamash (“attendant”), which is used to kindle the other eight lights.

On the first night, we light just one flame. On the second night, an additional flame is lit. By the eighth night of Chanukah, all eight lights are kindled.

A menorah is lit in every household and placed in a doorway or window. The menorah is also lit in synagogues and other public places.

In recent years, thousands of jumbo menorahs have cropped up in front of city halls and public buildings, and in malls and parks all over the world.

We recite the special Hallel prayer daily, and add V’Al HaNissim in our daily prayers and in the Grace After Meals, to offer praise and thanksgiving to G‑d for “delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few ... the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”

Read the full menorah-lighting guide.

Order your own free menorah.


Public Menorah Lighting

In the early 1970s, Chabad Lubavitch in New York, USA, introduced a Chanukah awareness campaign, urging public displays of the eight-day holiday.

Jews had once kindled their menorahs outside their homes, but centuries of persecution had driven them indoors. Those days were over! Therefore, Chabad encouraged and started in America, to bring the light of the menorah out once again to the streets — not only as a reminder that the Jewish people are free of persecution and can enjoy their rights as a minority, but as a universal message of freedom and liberty for all.

For the last 2,100 years, the Jewish people have commemorated these eight days of Chanukah, by lighting the menorah. This has been done in places near and far, in times good and bad.

The victory of Chanukah, is celebrated “as a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.” There is no better way then spreading this message with a public lighting menorah ceremony.

Public Menorah Lighting in Bricket Wood & Surrounding villages