How to Light the Menorah With Your Kidsby Amber Keefer
The Chanukah menorah is a candelabrum with nine branches. Jewish families light the menorah each year to celebrate the Festival of Lights, symbolic of the miracle of one day’s worth of lamp oil lasting for eight days. For this reason, the holiday is observed for eight nights. Lighting the menorah each night of Chanukah is one way not only to teach children more about their Jewish heritage and spiritual traditions, but also to promote a sense of belonging that helps families grow closer.
Items you will need
- Chanukah menorah
- Candles or olive oil
Ask that all members of the household participate in the traditional lighting of the menorah. Whether you use candles or olive oil, have everyone gather around the menorah to recite the prayers and blessings. One blessing is recited before the candles are lit and the second blessing while you are lighting the candles. Recite the third blessing only on the first night. This signifies that you are lighting the menorah for the first time that year.
Place candles in the menorah beginning from left to right. Facing the menorah, place the first candle in the candle holder to the far right. Increase the number of candles you light by one candle each evening. Always add the new candle to the left of those lit on previous nights.
Explain to children that you add candles from right to left because this is the direction in which Hebrew is read. Next explain that you light the candles from left to right, always lighting the newest candle first. Clarify that this is a gesture of welcome to the candle you add each evening. Use any color of candles and place the colors in the order you want.
Wait until the sun goes down before lighting the candles. You want it to be dark outside. Start with the newest candle and continue lighting the candles in order moving toward the right. Allow the candles to burn for at least 30 minutes after sundown. Some families keep the candles burning longer into the night. Light candles before sunset on Friday so that you won’t be lighting them on the Sabbath.
Teach children to use the Shamash to light the other candles. This is the tallest candle that sits apart from the others in the center, as it is not considered to be one of the Chanukah candles. this candle stands higher or lower than the other eight candles. Light the Shamash candle with a long match or lighter. Whether you choose to light the candles on the menorah yourself or allow your children to light some, all the candles on the right side should be lit after the fourth night.
Place the menorah in a windowsill or near a window where others outside can see it. Displaying the menorah spreads the light. Encourage your children to show pride in their cultural history, and let others know why they celebrate this special holiday.