Religion Wiki

Silver Hanukkah menorah.

The Hanukkah menorah (Hebrew: מנורה menorah) (also Hebrew: חַנֻכִּיָּהhanukiah, or chanukkiyah, pl. hanukiyot/chanukkiyot, or Yiddish: חנוכּה לאמפּ khanike lomp, lit.: Hanukkah lamp) is, strictly speaking, a nine-branched candelabrum lit during the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah, as opposed to the seven-branched menorah used in the ancient Temple or as a symbol. The ninth holder, called the shamash ("helper or servant"), is for a candle used to light all other candles. The menorah is among the most widely produced articles of Jewish ceremonial art. The menorah is a traditional symbol of Judaism, along with the Star of David.[1]


An oil burning Hanukkah menorah created in Israel circa 1948 designed by Maurice Ascalon and manufacutured by Pal-Bell Company

Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Temple after the successful Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy. The Jews found only enough ritually pure olive oil to light the menorah for one day, but the supply miraculously lasted eight days until a new supply could be obtained. In celebration of this miracle, the Hanukkah menorah has eight branches for eight candles or oil lamps, none higher than any other. These lamps are not to be used for secular purposes, such as providing the sole source of light or heat for the room. The Hanukkah menorah has a ninth branch for an auxiliary candle, the shamash, that, by shedding its own light, keeps the other candles from inadvertently serving any purpose other than their ritual one. The shamash is also used to light the other candles. The holder for the shamash candle is generally distinguished in some way from the other eight, traditionally being placed higher than the others, and often in the center, with four of the other candles on each side.

A whimsical porcelain menorah.

In addition to the shamash, on the first night one candle is placed in the holder on the far right, and is lit using either the shamash or a different candle or match. Each night afterwards for the next seven nights, one additional candle is kindled. The candles are placed in the Hanukkah menorah from right to left and kindled from left to right.[2] The manner of lighting one additional candle each night follows the opinion of the House of Hillel, which was accepted as Jewish law. The House of Shammai disagreed; it held that eight candles should be kindled the first night, seven the second night, and so on down to one candle on the last night.[3]

Many museums have notable collections of Hanukkah menorahs, including the Israel Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art,[4] and the Jewish Museum, which owns the Lindo lamp.[5]


A large, Chabad-style public menorah in front of the Karlsruhe castle.

In the English-speaking diaspora, the lamp is most commonly called a "Hanukkah menorah," whereas in Modern Hebrew it is exclusively called a chanukkiyah, and the Hebrew word menorah simply means "lamp". The term chanukkiyah was coined at the end of the nineteenth century in Jerusalem by the wife of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the reviver of the Hebrew language.

The parts of the menorah that hold the candle at the top of each arm are called "candle cups".


  1. Judaism A-Z Yacov Newman, Gavriel Sivan
  2. "Lighting the Menorah". Retrieved December 11, 2009. 
  3. Hillel and Shammai - Two Opinions on the Lighting of the Menorah by Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
  4. [1]
  5. Jerusalem Post, Jul 21, 2009, London's Jewish Museum preparing to buy 300-year-old hanukkia for new location, Sarah Sechan [2]

See also

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Menorah (Hanukkah). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.