Chanukah halachot and schedule

Click here for the halachot and schedule for Chanukah in convenient PDF format.

Chanukah in Brief

During the period of the Second Bet HaMikdash (the Second Temple), when the Syrian-Greeks ruled over the Land of Israel, the ruling government issued decrees that forbade the practice of the Jewish religion.

The Almighty delivered our ancestors from their hands, granting victory to the Maccabees. On the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, the Jews were victorious and entered the Bet HaMikdash, which had been defiled by their oppressors. They searched for ritually pure olive oil to light the menorah and found only one flask of undefiled oil. Although there was only enough oil in the flask to burn for one day, a miracle occurred and the oil burned for eight days. The Sages instituted the holiday of Chanukah to rejoice and give thanks to Hashem (through the recital of Hallel – the prayer of thanksgiving to the Almighty) and to light candles for eight nights.

Chanukah FAQs

Who lights Chanukah candles?

Men and women alike are obligated to perform the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah candles. A married woman may fulfill her obligation through her husband’s lighting if he is home. If he isn’t, she is required to light the candles herself.

How many candles should I light each night?

The accepted practice is for everyone in the household to light one candle the first night, then two the second night, increasing the number of candles based on which night of Chanukah it is.
If several menorahs are being lit together, it’s important that they not be positioned too close to each other, so that it will not be difficult to tell how many candles are lit that night.

What should I use to light the Chanukah candles?

The preferred fuel for the Chanukah candles is olive oil. Many people use candles. Electric lights cannot be used to fulfill the mitzvah.

How do I set up the candles?

We set up the candles from right to left and light them from left to right. The candles should be in a straight row (ie, not curved or in staggered heights).

Where should I place the candles?

Our practice is to light the menorah by a window that faces the street so people passing by will see the candles and the miracle of Chanukah will be publicized.

What is the proper time for lighting candles?

Candle-lighting time begins 10 minutes after sunset. If you cannot light at that time, you should do so immediately upon arriving home.

The candles must burn for at least half-an-hour after tzet hakochavim (when the stars come out; approximately 45 minutes after sunset). Therefore, you must use a sufficient amount of oil or candles large enough to last that amount of time.
If you use the small wax candles that burn only for half an hour, you should make sure to light candles when the stars come out or later.

When do I light Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat?

On Friday night, we may not light candles once Shabbat begins. Therefore, we light the menorah before the Shabbat candles.

Since we are lighting earlier than usual, we must use large enough candles or enough oil to burn until half-an-hour after the stars come out. Therefore, if you use candles, you should use the large type used for Shabbat, or long candles if they are able to burn long enough.

If you cannot use these larger candles for all of the Chanukah candles (you don’t have enough, for example), then at least one of them should be a large candle that will burn for the required amount of time. If you use oil, you should place enough in the menorah to burn for the required amount of time.

When do I light Chanukah candles on Motzei Shabbat?

On Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night), we may light only after Shabbat is over. In the synagogue, we light Chanukah candles before reciting havdallah. At home, we recite havdallah first, and then light the Chanukah candles (unless you have your own minhag (custom) of lighting Chanukah candles first).

What if I can’t light candles at the proper time?

If you are not able to light at the specific time designated for lighting the menorah, you may light with a bracha the entire night. The candles must burn for at least half-an-hour.

What Blessings Do I Recite on the candles?

On the first night, we say three brachot (next page):

  1. “l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah”
  2. “she’asa nisim l’avotenu”
  3. “shehechiyanu”.

The full text of the brachot can be found in the siddur. During the rest of Chanukah, we only recite the first two brachot. There should be no interruptions between the brachot and the lighting.

After lighting the first candle, we sing the song “Hanerot Halalu” while lighting the remaining candles. Some have the minhag to recite it after all the candles are lit. After the candles are all lit, we sing the song “Ma’oz Tzur”.

Are there any restrictions on the Chanukah candles?

You may not use the Chanukah lights for any other purpose. Therefore, our practice is to place the “shamash” – the candle that was used to light the Chanukah lights – next to the menorah. You should place it in a manner clearly showing that it is not one of the Chanukah candles.

Are there any other restrictions?

Once candle-lighting time arrives, we are prohibited from eating a meal until we light.

What if I get invited out?

If you are invited out for dinner during Chanukah you cannot fulfill your obligation of lighting candles where you will be eating. You must light at home.

If you are staying overnight and you leave home before candle lighting time, you light at your destination. If you leave after lighting time you should light at home.

Do we light the candles in the synagogue, too?

We light the menorah with the brachot in the synagogue in the evening before the Ma’ariv service. We also light in the morning during the Shacharit service, but no brachot are said.

Are there any special Chanukah prayers not related to the candles?

During Chanukah we recite the prayer of “al hanisim” in the Amidah during the bracha of “Modim”, as well as in the Bircat Hamazon in the bracha of “Nodeh l’cha”.

If you forget to insert Al haNisim in the Amidah and realize before saying the name of Hashem at the conclusion of the blessing of Modim, you should return to Al haNisim and continue from there. If you realize afterward, you can make the insertion at the conclusion of the Amidah after the verse of “…yeh’yu l’ratzon”.

If you forget during Bircat haMazon – and have not yet said the name of Hashem at the conclusion of the blessing of Nodeh – you should return to Al haNisim and continue from there. If you realize afterward, then after the paragraph of Ba’morom, you add the following phrase: “harachamon ya’aseh lanu nisim v’nifla’ot k’shem she’asitah la’avotenu ba’yamim ha’hem ba’zman ha’zeh” and continue with Al haNisim, starting from the words “bi’mei Matityahu”. (The first paragraph, beginning with the words Al haNisim, is omitted). Even if you were to totally forget to insert Al HaNisim, you need not repeat the Amidah or Bircat haMazon.

Chanukah Candle Lighting Time Chart

The time for lighting the menorah will vary depending on what type of candles you use and what time you arrive home in the evening. To determine when to light and for how long the candles need to burn, use the Chanukah Candle lighting Chart in the Chanukah schedule that indicates the times for sunset and Tzet hakochavim (when the stars come out) this year during Chanukah.

Tues, Dec 16 sunset 4:12 p.m. Tzet 4:57 p.m.
Wed, Dec 17 sunset 4:13 p.m. Tzet 4:58 p.m.
Thu, Dec 18 sunset 4:13 p.m. Tzet 4:58 p.m.
Fri, Dec 19 Shabbat Candles 3:55 p.m. Tzet 4:59 p.m.
Sat, Dec 20 Shabbat ends at 5:03 p.m.
Sun, Dec 21 sunset 4:14 p.m. Tzet 4:59 p.m.
Mon, Dec 22 sunset 4:15 p.m. Tzet 5:00 p.m.
Tues, Dec 23 sunset 4:16 p.m. Tzet 5:01 p.m.

The candles must burn for at least half-an-hour after tzet hakochavim (when the stars come out, which is approximately 45 minutes after sunset). Therefore, you must use a sufficient amount of oil or candles large enough to last that amount of time.

Fast of Asarah B’Tevet (10th Day of Tevet)

On the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem which culminated in the Destruction of the first Bet HaMikdash. Therefore this day was declared a fast day as part of our mourning over the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash and the exile of the Jewish people.

Chanukah Schedule
Tuesday, December 16 1st Night of Chanukah
Maariv 8:00 pm
Wednesday – Thursday, December 17 -18
Shacharit 6:40 am
Maariv 8:00 pm
Friday, December 19
Shacharit 6:40 am
Mincha 3:55 pm
Shabbat Candlelighting 3:55 pm
Saturday, December 20
Shacharit at Salem Towers 7:45 am
Shacharit 8:45 am
Latest time for Kriat Shema 9:25 am
Mincha 3:30 pm
Maariv 4:55 pm
Shabbat ends 5:04 pm
Sunday, December 21
Shacharit 8:00 am
Mincha 4:00 pm
Maariv 4:30 pm
Monday – Wednesday, December 22 – 24
Shacharit 6:40 am
Maariv 8:00 pm
Fast of Asara B’Tevet Schedule
Thursday, January 1
Fast begins 6:02 am
If you will be eating food over which we make the blessing of ‘Borei Minei Mezonot” you must begin eating prior to 30 minutes before the fast begins.
Shacharit 8:00 am
Mincha 3:55 pm
Maariv 4:55 pm
Fast ends 5:07 pm