The story of Hanukkah begins in the second century B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria ruled the land of Israel. Antiochus ordered everyone in his empire to worship and sacrafice to his gods and that the Jewish temple be desecrated. A rebellion against Antiochus' oppression was led by Mattathias and his five sons, known as the Maccabees. Despite the odds against them, the Maccabees defeated the Syrian army and rededicated the Jewish Temple in 164 B.C. with an eight-day celebration.

The Maccabees were able to fine only one jar of oil that had been saved from Syrian desecration to light the Ner Tamid (Eternal Light). This was only enough oil to last one day but it lasted eight days. This was the miracle of Hanukkah.


Hanukkah Observance

After sunset, when everyone has gathered together the shamash (helper candle) is lit, and then used to light the others. The hannukiah (Hanukkah Menorah) is filled from right to left, but lit left to right.


These Two Blessings are said every night:


Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu Melech Ha-olam asher kid'shanu be-mitzvotav vitzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

You Abound in Blessings, Adonai Our L-rd, You make us holy with your commandments and call us to light the Hanukkah lights.


Barukh Atta Adonay Eloheynu Melekh Ha-olam She-asa Nissim La-avoteynu Ba-yyamim Ha-hem Ba-zzman Ha-ze


Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season. 


On the First night only, a third blessing is added:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu Melech Ha-olam, sheheheyanu vikiamanu vihigianu lazman hazeh.

You abound in Blesings, Adonai Our L-rd, You have kept us alive, You have sustained us, You have brought us to this season.


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