Electric or Traditional? How to Choose a Menorah for Your Hanukkah Celebration

If you celebrate Hanukkah, one staple piece of equipment you need is a menorah (pronounced men-OH-ruh). Another word for this candelabra in Hebrew is Chanukiah, which is where the name of the holiday comes from. Maybe you have one or two or four already, or maybe there's a special one that's been in the family for generations, but if you are looking to buy a new one, you have a couple categories of menorahs you can choose from. Which is best for you? You can ask yourself a few questions to decide:

  1. How are you using the menorah? Will you be singing the traditional prayers while lighting each candle, or is your goal more simply to achieve the ambiance of the Hanukkah holiday?
  2. What sort of mood do you want to create with your menorah? A more serious and traditional feel? Or a light, fun atmosphere?

There are several different types of menorahs!
There are several different types of menorahs! | Source

Classic Metallic Menorahs

This is the classic look for menorahs, the look of the menorahs of many previous generations. They may be brass or silverplated, any sort of metal. If you want to celebrate the Hanukkah holiday in a more traditional, no-frills sort of way, perhaps a metallic menorah is your best bet. It is easy to use this type of menorah to perform the ceremonial candle lighting while singing the Hebrew prayer, in which you use the middle candle, called the shamash, to light each of the other candles. Those who have never celebrated Hanukkah sometimes assume that there are 8 candles for each of the 8 nights, but there are actually 9 candles including the shamash.

Using the shamash to light the menorah (or chanukiah) on Hanukkah
Using the shamash to light the menorah (or chanukiah) on Hanukkah | Source

Electric Menorahs

Of course, there are those, like myself, who want to celebrate Hanukkah but don't like the idea of lighting candles and leaving open flame in the house. Or perhaps those who simply prefer the more modern or technological look. If this is the case, electric menorahs are the way to go. Simply plug the menorah into an outlet for a 21st century Hanukkah.

And don't worry about not being able to light one candle at a time. You aren't forced to have all the candles lit at once; an electric menorah will have a way to only light one bulb per night, whether it means pressing a button under each individual "candle," or just screwing in the number of bulbs that you want to light up.

Another reason to buy an electric menorah is if you already have a menorah to use for the candle lighting ceremony but would also like one to place in the window for decoration. It's the Jewish family's answer to Christmas lights!

An electric menorah in the window of a Jewish home
An electric menorah in the window of a Jewish home | Source

Unique, Decorative Menorahs and Judaica

Like any source of home decor and/or holiday memorabilia, menorahs can be personalized and give your home and holiday a unique or trendy feeling. You can find menorahs to express your hobbies or your love of animals, or just to be a funky piece of Judaica to brighten up your home. Many designers make their own menorahs and sell them at small shops, etc. Some, like the Noah's Ark menorah, are more widely produced. This type of menorah is for people looking for a more personal way to celebrate the holiday, or for a menorah that is an expression of their family's personality!

This is also a good way to get children more interested in the ceremonial aspects of the holiday. Of course, kids don't need much encouragement to enjoy Hanukkah; who doesn't love eight days of presents? But lighting a menorah made of cats or soccer balls or race cars is fun, too, and draws the attention to the prayers and rituals of the holiday.

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