US Marines light Chanukah candles aboard MCAS Miramar in 2013. (Wikimedia Commons) (Wikimedia Commons)
US Marines light Chanukah candles


What is the holiday of Chanukah and how is it celebrated by the Jewish people? This article provides a brief overview.

Chanukah is a time to celebrate miracles, chief among them the miracle that occurred after the Jews defeated the Greeks and returned to the Holy Temple. Just as Greek philosophies promoted moral degradation, so too the Greeks themselves literally defiled and desecrated the Holy Temple. In their wake, they left just one small sealed vessel of pure Menorah oil, bearing the stamped certification of the Priest. While this vessel had sufficient oil for only one day’s light, the Jews experienced another great miracle when the Menorah remained lit for an additional seven days! The miracle provided exactly the amount of time necessary to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the Menorah.

Lighting the Menorah

The Chanukah holiday is celebrated by lighting a type of Menorah called a Chanukiya, which is similar to the lamp that was lit in the Holy Temple. The primary difference is the number of branches. While the Menorah in the Holy Temple had seven branches, the one we light today has eight. Lighting the Chanukah Menorah is not a reenactment of lighting the Temple Menorah, as it serves as a reminder of the eight-day miracle that occurred during this time, with one branch dedicated to each night of the holiday.

The Chanukah Menorah has an extra ninth branch called the Shamash, whose purpose is two-fold. First, we use the Shamash to kindle the Chanukiya’s other lights, setting it a bit higher or lower than the other candles to differentiate it from the Mitzvah candles. Second, the Shamash is available for practical uses for which the holy Chanukah lights are forbidden. On the first night we light one candle using the Shamash, and on every subsequent night of Chanukah we light one more candle.

The Israel Boutique Chanukah Collection

Apropos of this time of year, the Israel Boutique offers unique and beautiful Chanukah Menorahs and gifts. The Menorahs are fit for lighting during the Festival of Lights, with each one connecting to the Chanukah story in a unique way.


1. Jerusalem Stone Menorahs – These Menorahs’ unique designs and exquisite details are handcrafted from authentic Jerusalem stone. As the material from which the Holy Temple was built, this stone is a reminder of our eternal connection to Jerusalem. What better way to celebrate Chanukah and the victory of our return to the Holy Temple than with a Menorah made in the Holy Land from the same type of materials!


2. Rockets into Roses Menorahs – Hand-sculpted works of art, fashioned by metal sculptor Yaron Bob, these Menorahs are made from actual rockets that landed in Israel. The artist has literally transformed instruments of death and weapons of war into meaningful objects of great beauty. This is exactly the message of Chanukah, on which we celebrate light and the defeat of the enemies of truth.


3. Jerusalem Menorah Coins – Jerusalem Coins are commemorative treasures crafted with uncompromising quality, elegance, and beauty. Depicting the seven-branched Temple Menorah on one side and the City of Gold and the Holy Temple on the other, this coin’s design tells the story of Chanukah’s miracles. After the Jews defeated the Greeks, they returned to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem where a miracle occurred. They found only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day, but the light burned bright for eight days!

Chanukah articles


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