Lining up the Hanukah Candles and Blessings:

On each night we add a candle lining them up on the Hanukiyah (Hanukah Menorah) from right to left. The shamash candle lights the others going from left to right (i.e. the most recent candle is lit first). Sing each night the Hanukah melody using the words of the first two blessings. On the first night only, sing the third blessing:

[1] Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam asher kid’shanu b’mitz’votav v’tzi-vanu l’had’lik ner shel Hanukah – Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign Power of the universe, who sanctifies us with mitzvot and commands us to light the Hanukah Menorah.

[2] Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam sh’asa nisim l’avo-teinu ba-ya-mim hahem baz’man ha-zeh – Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign Power of the universe, Who made for us miracles at that time during in this season. Amen.

[3] Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-he-chi-ya-nu v’k’yi-ma-nu v’hi-gi-a-nu laz’man ha-zeh. Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign Power of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this holy season.

The following blessings may be read and questions for discussion between parents, grandparents and children as the candles of the Hanukkiah are kindled each night.


FIRST CANDLE: THE LIGHT OF TORAH AND BLESSING

With this candle we reaffirm our people’s commitment to the study of our sacred tradition. May the light of this flame cast its warmth upon us all and inspire us to be grateful for the blessings of life and health.

For discussion – Read together this Yiddish proverb: “If you cannot be grateful for what you have received, then be thankful for what you have been spared!” and ask: [1] Why is it important to be grateful? [2] How does learning Judaism actually change our lives?
SECOND CANDLE: THE LIGHT OF LIBERATION AND HOPE

On behalf of all our people dispersed in the four corners of the world that live in fear and distress we stand this night in solidarity with them. Our Hanukkah flames are theirs and their hopes are ours. We are one people united by tradition, history and faith.

For discussion – Read together this statement from Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav: “The whole world is a very narrow bridge; the important thing is not to be afraid,” and ask: [1] Why does fear make it harder for us to love other people? [2] In what ways can we show the Jewish people living around the world that they are part of our Jewish family and that we care about them?

THIRD CANDLE: THE LIGHT OF PEACE AND MEMORY

With this candle we pray that a just and lasting peace may be established between Israel and the Palestinians. May the memory of all those Israelis who gave their lives for peace be a blessing for our people and all peoples of the Middle East.

For discussion – Read together this statement by Albert Einstein: “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. This may be said of peace between nations, between people, and even peace within oneself.” Then ask: Why is peace so dependent on understanding the “other” person?

FOURTH CANDLE: THE LIGHT OF TOLERANCE

With this light we pray that racism, political enmity, gender bias, religious hatred, intolerance of the “other,” and fundamentalism of all kinds be dispelled, and may we recognize that every human being is created B’tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image.

For discussion – Read together this passage from the Sayings of the Sages (4:1): “Who is wise? The person who learns something from every other person.” Then ask: [1] How is learning from someone else different than learning math, science or history? [2] What does it mean to “know the heart of the stranger” and what can each of us do to get to know people who are not like us and learn from each of them?


FIFTH CANDLE: THE LIGHT OF ECONOMIC JUSTICE

With this light we recommit ourselves to work on behalf of the poor in all our communities and throughout the world. May we be inspired not only to feed the hungry and uplift up the fallen, but to act strategically as advocates to reorder society’s priorities so that all may have the opportunity to support themselves and live lives of dignity.

For discussion – Read this statement by Elie Wiesel: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the  tormented…There may be times when we ar powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Then ask: What concrete actions can each of us take as individuals and as a family to help the poor and discriminated against in our community and help those in other countries who are oppressed?

SIXTH CANDLE: THE LIGHT OF CREATION

With this light may we renew our commitment to preserve God’s creation, to support policies that preserve our air, water and natural resources for, recalling the Midrash, if we destroy it there will be no one after us to make it right.

For discussion: Read this passage together from the Midrash collection on the book of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28) – “Upon presenting the wonder of creation to Adam, God said: ‘See my works, how fine and excellent they are! Now all that I created, for you I created. Think upon this, and do not corrupt and desolate my world; for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you.” Then discuss ways in your homes you can help protect the environment.

SEVENTH CANDLE: THE LIGHT OF FAMILY AND COMMUNITY BLESSING

May the light of this flame cast its warmth upon us all and everyone in the public square to be ever grateful for the blessings of family and community.

For discussion: Read together this passage from the Talmud (Taanit 11a) – “When the community is in trouble a person should not say, ‘I will go to my house, eat, drink, and be at peace with myself.’” Then ask, what can each of us do as individuals to help another human being who is in trouble either in our families or in our community?

EIGHTH CANDLE: THE LIGHT OF MEMORY AND WITNESSING

May these lights, kindled all, inspire us to perform deeds of loving-kindness for others, friend and stranger alike.

For discussion: Read together this passage from the Talmud (Succah 49b) – “All who perform acts of charity and justice, it is as if they fill the world with loving-kindness.” Then ask what little acts of kindness can we as individuals do all the time for others?

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