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Hanukkah Menorahs Today: Traditional & Modern Menorahs to Celebrate the Festival of Lights

Updated on January 17, 2012
Chris Telden profile image

For Chris, choosing gifts is like writing a story: By matching the character to the gift, you learn more about people and what they value.

Hanukkah is not called the Festival of Lights for nothing. The menorah is the candelabrum with nine holders that is the center of the candle-lighting ceremony at Hanukkah. Symbolic of the miraculous flame that kept burning long beyond its expected time, the menorah has eight regular branches and an extra one that is often positioned raised in the center or, less typically, on the end. It is traditional to light a new candle on each of the eight nights of the holiday using the shamash, or extra candle.

Here you will find a wide selection of menorahs, from modern designs like the electric or modular menorahs to traditional brass or silver hanukkah menorahs. Some are elegant, others humorous, others finely crafted and ornate, others ecclectic. Each one has its own distinct style. The prices range from cheap to expensive, from under $20 to over $200.

Order of Lighting Menorah Candles

On the first night of Hanukkah, the shamash is lit and used to light the rightmost candle. On the second night, the shamash is lit, then used to light the two candles farthest to the right, starting with the left. Each night of Hanukkah, a new candle is lit along with the rest, going from left to right. By the last night of the holiday, all the candles are lit.

According to tradition, Hanukkah candles should stay lit at least thirty minutes after dark.  On the Friday night Sabbath, longer menorah candles might be used, as they must be lit before sundown.

Buy a Jewish Menorah for Chanukah

Menorahs are designed to be ritual objects of some beauty. They are typically displayed in windows or inside the doorway where they are visible from outside.

A classic menorah with ornate carving is very beautiful, but some of the simpler ones are just as lovely. The artistry that goes into creating these Jewish candelabra is reflective of the pride Jewish people take in the miracle of Chanukah and their gratitude for the saving of the Temple.

About Electric Menorahs

Electric menorahs powered by battery or to plug-in are handy for serving as a second menorah for window display. Rabbi Naftali Silverberg recommends lighting a regular menorah ritually and reserving an electric one for the window.

Traditional menorahs use real flames. But since fire is not allowed or safe in some public places or private spaces (for example, in windows), substituting for the flame-based candelabrum is the modern electric menorah.

While some orthodox Jews do not recognize the electric menorah, many rabbinical authorities do.

Electric menorahs come in various styles. Some of them showcase very modern, snazzy designs, whereas others retain a sleek, classic look.

Artistic & Colorful & Unusual Menorahs for Sale

Modern Jewish Menorah

Modern Jewish menorahs can be recognized by their unusual shapes and non-traditional designs. Some modular candelabras come in pieces. Others come in shapes like the Tree of Life, a bench, a hat, or Noah's Ark, or have candle holders in the shape of human or animal figurines. Many are amusing and fun for children. Some even come with charms.

Explore each one of these up close and you'll see the great variety and exquisite attention to detail that went into these designs. And what's even better - many are under $50.

The Chanukah Story

The Hanukkah story is the story told in the Talmud of the reclaiming of the Jerusalem Temple from Greek rule by the Maccabees. After revolting against the Seleucid government, the Maccabees arrived at the Temple at virtually the last minute; its perpetually-lit menorah was nearly out of oil, and more oil would be needed to keep the Temple menorah alight. But there wasn't make it. Yet the day's supply of oil that was left lasted the eight days needed to obtain the oil. That was the Chanukah miracle.

Although a very nice miracle, the Chanukah miracle is generally not considered as important as it would seem when it is associated with the Christmas holiday - the Chanukah story is not even mentioned in the Old Testament.

Yet the Festival of Lights remains a fun family event for many modern Jews, who have extended the tradition of gelt giving to giving Hanukkah presents to the children of the family. 

Why Are Latkes Eaten During Hanukkah?

The eating of latkes at Chanukah by Ashkenazi Jews is directly related to the miracle of the olive oil burning for 8 days instead of the expected one. Fried foods like latkes bring to mind the original oil that lasted so long.

Just for Kids

Kids love having their own menorahs and watching them being lit each day, and may even be inspired to create their own out of clay.

Engage children in the winter holidays by showing them a menorah doesn't have to be boring and stuffy, but can feature animals, characters, even castles.

And Don't Forget...

For the budget conscious or collector, don't forget that you can buy antique and previously used Chanukah menorahs on eBay. Search creatively to find electric models, traditional lights, and even candles.

See the author's disclosure statement regarding compensation for this article.

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