Chanukah

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is our eight day celebration of a miracle that transpired in ancient days, which we commemorate beginning on the 25th day of Kislev. 

Some say that the miracle was the military victory of the Maccabean revolt, which defeated the armies of Antiochus and resulted in Jewish independence under the Hasmoneans. The rabbis of the Talmud say that the miracle was in the longevity of the tiny cruse of holy oil found in the desecrated Temple, which lasted eight days, long enough so that more could be made or procured and the Temple rededicated.  The term "Chanukah" means "Dedication."

Today, we light candles on each of the eight nights of Chanukah to remember and proclaim the ancient miracle.  While today's candleabrum (known as the menorah or chanukiah) typically employs wicks and wax rather than oil, we make sure to use plenty of oil in frying up latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts), the special foods of the festival!

The blessings recited when lighting the Chanukah candles are as follows:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חֲנֻכָּה

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner shel Cha-nu-kah.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בָּזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem ba-zman ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days, at this time.

(Third blessing, recited only on the first night):

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לָזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu laz-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.