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Prayer For Hanukkah

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a joyous and significant holiday in the Jewish calendar. It is a time when Jewish communities around the world come together to celebrate the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The holiday is marked by the lighting of the menorah, a special nine-branched candelabrum, over the course of eight nights. Central to the celebration are the prayers recited during this time. In this article, we will explore the various prayers associated with Hanukkah, particularly the Hanukkah prayer in English.

Compared with other key dates on the Jewish calendar (such as Rosh HashanahYom Kippur, or Passover), Hanukkah is actually a relatively minor holiday. But because it roughly coincides with the winter festive season (and marketers have pumped it up as a selling tool), it’s grown to become a big deal for American Jews.

Also called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is a cherished time for loved ones to come together, light the Hanukkah candles, eat Hanukkah foods such as latkes and sufganiyot, exchange Hanukkah gifts, and play Hanukkah games like the traditional spinning top game known as dreidel.

It’s also a time for Hanukkah prayer, with a set of blessings recited while lighting the candles in a nine-branch candle holder called a menorah or hanukkiyah. The ninth spot is for the candle known as the shamash, the “helper candle” which is used to light the other eight.

This number of candles represents the “miracle of Hanukkah,” which happened when just a small bit of oil burned for eight days during the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where the Jewish people had fought back against the Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt in the second century B.C.

Ahead, find the traditional Hanukkah prayers in Hebrew, transliteration, and English translation. Get them ready for this year, when Hanukkah 2023 begins at sundown on Thursday, December 7 and runs through the evening of Friday, December 15.

Be sure to bookmark these Hanukkah prayers, along with our guides to Jewish blessings for everyday situations and important holidays:

Yom Kippur Prayers | Rosh Hashanah Prayers | Purim Blessings

hanukkah blessings

Hanukkah blessings can be read in Hebrew or English, depending on your comfort level.chameleonseye

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Traditional blessings over the Hanukkah candles

Candles are added to the menorah from right to left (the way Hebrew is read), but kindled from left to right, with the newest candle lit first (after the shamash). Recite or sing these prayers as you light the menorah each night of Hanukkah.

On the Shabbat of Hanukkah, light the Hanukkah candles before the Shabbat candles.

The first blessing

Hebrew:

,בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִידְשָׁנוּ בְּמִצוֹתָיו

.וְצִיוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חַנֻכָה

Transliteration:

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

English translation:

Blessed are you, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes us holy through Your commandments, and commands us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.

The second blessing

Hebrew:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ

.וְאִמּוֹתֵֽינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Transliteration:

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech haolam, she-asah nisim la’avoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.

English translation:
Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the universe, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in those ancient days at this season.

The third blessing (first night only):

On the first night of Hanukkah, the shehecheyanu is also recited. It is a prayer of gratitude that is said on special occasions.

Hebrew:

,בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָּנוּ, וְקִיְּמָנוּ

.וְהִגִּיָּענוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Transliteration:

Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.

English translation:

Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has given us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.

Prayer For Hanukkah In English

One of the unique aspects of Hanukkah is that it is a holiday that is widely celebrated by Jews across the globe, and as such, prayers are often recited in various languages, including English. The Hanukkah prayer in English allows Jews who may not be fluent in Hebrew to participate fully in the festivities and connect with the holiday’s traditions.

The most common English-language Hanukkah prayer is the one recited when lighting the Hanukkah menorah. The candle lighting ceremony takes place on each of the holiday’s eight nights. The blessings for lighting the candles are as follows:

  1. Blessing Over the Candles: “Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.” This blessing translates to, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.”
  2. Shehecheyanu Blessing: On the first night of Hanukkah, another blessing is recited, known as the Shehecheyanu blessing, which is said to express gratitude for reaching this moment. “Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.” This blessing translates to, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.”

What is the Hanukkah prayer in English?

The Hanukkah prayer in English, as mentioned above, primarily revolves around the blessings recited during the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah. These blessings express gratitude and sanctify the act of lighting the candles, emphasizing the importance of the holiday and the miracle of the oil that Hanukkah commemorates.

However, in addition to the blessings for lighting the candles, there are other Hanukkah prayers recited during the holiday. These include the Hallel, a collection of Psalms (113-118) that are traditionally recited or sung in praise of God’s miracles and the rededication of the Temple. The Al Hanisim prayer, which is inserted into the Amidah and Grace after Meals, is also said during Hanukkah to thank God for the miracles and wonders performed during the holiday.

What prayers are said in Hanukkah?

Apart from the specific blessings for lighting the Hanukkah menorah and the additional prayers like Hallel and Al Hanisim, there are various other prayers and customs associated with Hanukkah.

  1. Ma’oz Tzur: This is a traditional Hanukkah song that is sung after the candle lighting. It tells the story of Jewish history and expresses hope for the future.
  2. Hanerot Halalu: After lighting the candles, it is common to recite the Hanerot Halalu prayer, which acknowledges the sanctity of the Hanukkah lights and their significance.
  3. Psalm 30: Some communities read Psalm 30, known as Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit (A Song of the Dedication of the House), as part of their Hanukkah observance.
  4. Tzedakah: Giving to charity is a significant aspect of Hanukkah. It is customary to give to those in need during this holiday, reinforcing the themes of charity and generosity.

What are the three Hanukkah prayers?

The three primary Hanukkah prayers, as mentioned earlier, are the blessings recited when lighting the Hanukkah menorah, the Hallel, and the Al Hanisim prayer.

  1. Blessings for the Hanukkah Menorah: These blessings sanctify the act of lighting the Hanukkah candles and express gratitude for the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the Temple.
  2. Hallel: This is a collection of Psalms that is recited or sung during Hanukkah to praise God for the miracles of the holiday and the rededication of the Temple.
  3. Al Hanisim Prayer: This prayer is included in the Amidah (the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy) and Grace after Meals. It specifically thanks God for the miracles and wonders performed during the time of Hanukkah, emphasizing the deliverance of the Jewish people from their enemies.

How do you recite Hanukkah blessings?

Reciting the Hanukkah blessings is an essential part of the Hanukkah celebration. To do this properly, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the Menorah: Place the Hanukkah menorah in a visible location, such as a windowsill, and load it with the appropriate number of candles. On the first night, one candle is used, and an additional candle is added each subsequent night, until all eight are lit.
  2. Gather Your Family: Hanukkah is a time for family and community. Invite your loved ones to join you in the candle lighting.
  3. Light the Candles: Begin by lighting the shamash, the center or “helper” candle, which is used to light the other candles. Recite the first blessing: “Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.” As you recite the blessing, use the shamash to light the first candle. Place the shamash back in its holder.
  4. Continue Lighting: On subsequent nights, recite the same blessing and use the shamash to light the corresponding number of candles. For example, on the second night, light two candles while reciting the blessing, and so on.
  5. Recite the Shehecheyanu Blessing: On the first night, after lighting the candles, recite the Shehecheyanu blessing: “Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.” This blessing expresses gratitude for reaching this special moment.
  6. Place the Menorah: Once the candles are lit and the blessings are recited, place the menorah in its designated spot, allowing it to burn for at least half an hour.

Hanukkah is a time of reflection, celebration, and dedication. Reciting the Hanukkah blessings and participating in the rituals is a way to commemorate the miracles of this holiday and kindle the light of hope, faith, and perseverance in our lives. Whether in Hebrew or English, these prayers and customs connect Jewish communities around the world to their shared history and traditions, making Hanukkah a cherished and unifying holiday.

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