We come together at Chanukah to celebrate with a variety of holiday events and activities.
Chanukah at Central Synagogue
About the Holiday
Chanukah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, is an eight-day festival of light that falls in the Hebrew month of Kislev (typically December on the secular calendar). It marks the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.E., when a small group of Jews led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers were victorious against great odds over the Syrian armies that sought to destroy the temple and the practice of Judaism.
We associate Chanukah with miracles, not only because of the military victory of the Maccabees, but because of a later Talmudic story describing a single day’s supply of oil lasting for a full eight nights—a miracle that enabled the Jews to replenish their oil supply during the rededication of the Holy Temple.
At Central, Chanukah provides an opportunity for us to celebrate light during a time of early sunsets and lengthening evenings. We literally bring light into the darkness by lighting the chanukiah, a special menorah for Chanukah. We use a shamash (helper candle) to light the menorah, adding one additional candle each night until our chanukiah glows with all eight candles plus the shamash on the final night. We remember the Talmudic miracle of oil by enjoying foods prepared in oil, including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). We also play dreidel, a game with a spinning top where one aims to win treats such as chocolate foil-wrapped coins called gelt.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Chanukah lights.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.
Blessing 3 (first night only):
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.