Hanukiyot: Pt 1
Many of these hanukiyot are hand crafted by artists from Israel, the USA, Canada, and other countries. They are often very modern looking. While I tried hard to only include Kosher hanukiyot, there are a few that are not, and they will be marked as such.
Before I show you the first batch, let's have a short tutorial about Hanukah.
What makes a Kosher hanukiyot? All of the candles must be on the same level except the shamash, which is of course higher. If the candles are uneven, this is not a Kosher hanukiyot. While that doesn't matter some some people, it does to others.
Why am I calling these menorahs hanukiyot? Because a menorah is a branched candelabra with 6 arms. A hanukiyot has 8 arms for the 8 days of Hanukah, and a Shamash (helper candle) you use to light the other candles. Many people tend to use the term menorah for both, but technically that isn't correct. A hanukiah is used only for Hanukah.
How do I light the hanukiyot? Starting on the first night of Hanukah, a single candle and the Shamash are placed on the right side of the hanukiyot. You light the shamash with a match, and then use that to light the first night candle. For each subsequent night you add one candle, from the right, and you light them with the shamash from the left. The last night, all of the candles are lit.
How many hanukiyot are needed in a home? In a Jewish home, only one is technically needed, but most families have more than one. It's a tradition for each child in the home to have their own hanukiyot, and in many homes, as the kids age, their kiddie hanukiyot are replaced with more grown up models. But only one is needed.
Are prayers said every night? On the first night, there are three separate prayers that are said. Each subsequent night, there are two prayers said. They are the same prayers every night.
What other customs are done on Hanukah? We eat fried foods to represent the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days. The two foods that are eaten on Hanukah are latkes, fried potato pancakes. They are eaten with sour cream and apple sauce. This is more of an Ashkenazi or eastern European custom. The other food are sufganiyot or jelly donuts. This is an Israeli custom that has become popular in Jewish communities in the USA and Canada.
We also play sivivon, or dreidel. Dreidel is the Yiddish name, sivivon is the Hebrew name for the 4 sided top that we use to play a gambling game, mostly using chocolate coins called Gelt for our bets.
What about presents? In many households, Hanukah isn't about exchanging gifts. In fact, the whole gift thing is very modern and was created as a way for Jewish families to assimilate into American culture. For some families, small gifts are given every night of Hanukah. For other families one night is devoted to gift giving. For still others, no gifts are exchanged at all. Every family has their own minhag (custom).
Is that all there is? Yup, pretty much. Some families decorate for Hanukah. When my kids were little, I did that as well. Most don't. Hanukah is a very minor Jewish holiday. Our major holidays are in the fall and spring.
OK, on with the show.