Preparing for Neirot / Chanukkah

Always remember, that since the Festival of Lights (Chanukkah) falls outside of the remit of Torah and the rest of the Miqra (bible), there are no real mitzvot involved; don’t ever think, “Oh, am I doing this properly according to Torah?” because Chanukkah is not covered by Torah; so-called mitzvot for Chanukkah are in fact rabbinical inventions. In addition, there is not supposed to be any air of sanctity about the festival, and there are no ordained days of rest connected with the actual festival itself.

The only holy days that occur during the 8 days of the festival, is the one Sabbath that normally occurs anyway, and the New Moon day of the 10th Month (Tevet), which is used in the Talmidi community as an opportunity for a family-gathering meal (a meal for one’s extended family).

The themes of the festival are a victory celebration and feasting; the overcoming of the great and many by the few; eliminating pagan ways from our lives and rededicating our lives to God; religious freedom, and acknowledging our right to practice the Yahwist Israelite religion.

Decorating the Home

According to 2 Macc 1:9, the Festival is a reduplication of the Festival of Booths. So, if you wish to give your home a festive air, I suggest decorating your main room or dining room with greenery and fruit (real or artificial), the same as at Sukkot (but this time no actual booth, and everything is inside), and if you like, green tinsel and anything else green. However you do it, and however little or much you do, try to create a festive atmosphere.

Suitable things for decoration are artificial palm fronds, any flat-leaved plant, Mediterranean fruits, chocolate coins etc. However, try to avoid plants like holly, pine, other conifers, mistletoe, red berries, baubles, non-green tinsel (all for obvious reasons).

Following on from the alternative name of the festival, ‘Lights’ (Chag Neirot), you could also decorate your main area with strings of small lights, or have small lit lamps or candles around the place (but be VERY careful, they are a fire hazard; be safe).

Food for the Seider

Cook something special for the main meal, something that will make you feel that you are celebrating something great and important and joyous.

Also prepare something to represent the “Greek dish” in the seder, something small and light that is kosher, but is not traditionally Jewish (stuffed vine leaves, for example, which can easily be purchased from Mediterranean or Middle Eastern shops/stores).

The “Lamps”

There is nothing in the story of the Maccabees to link the ‘Lights’ or lamps directly to the Menorah; there is a traditional prayer, Al ha-Nissim, which intimates that the lights came from the lamps set around the courts of the Temple when Judah Maccabee was cleansing the Temple. Since this is not mentioned in the story either, some writers think that there might actually have existed a festival before Chanukkah, called the festival of lights, which lasted only one day, and during which it was traditional to light eight lights. This remains speculation, but in any case, it has nothing to do with the miracle of the cruse of oil lasting eight days, an invented story told by the ancient Rabbis simply to give the festival something supernatural to celebrate.

I don’t think that the Lights have anything to do with the Temple Menorah. However, archaeologists have found old rectangular stone lamps with eight parallel grooves or channels for placing wicks and oil. These date back to Second Temple times, so the idea of the eight lights existed at the time, unconnected to the Menorah.

As long as you have eight things to light in a row, it doesn’t matter what they are: a row of small glasses with floating candles in them, or a row of eight candlesticks or tea-lights, or a pre-made article with eight places for candles, or whatever. There is also no ‘servant’ light – it’s unnecessary (and was not present on ancient chanukkiyot – again, a rabbinical invention). You can have a single, separate candle to read by.

What you need for The Seder

If you want to have a go at the Seder, then you will need the following (always remember, there is nothing to stop you improvising if you need to. And don’t go out of your way to spend money – it doesn’t have to be expensive):

  • Plates, knives, forks, spoons for each person (for main meal)
  • 1 candle (one that will burn for about an hour or more, and which will burn with sufficient brightness to read by on its own)
  • Box of matches
  • Eight ‘lamps’ / candles or similar; see above note on lamps
  • A sheet of plain paper to write on
  • Pen to write with
  • One matzah
  • A small plate for the matzah
  • A chumash (if you have no Torah, then a whole Miqra [bible] will suffice)
  • Siddur (or anything to represent a prayerbook)
  • Small challah (or any ordinary unsliced loaf or roll of bread)
  • A plate for the bread
  • Milk (or something similar if you are lactose intolerant)
  • Jug for the milk
  • Small bowls for the milk for each person (so that they can dip their bread in it)
  • Honey on small saucers for each person
  • Small basket or fruit bowl
  • Some fruit (eg dates, grapes, persimmons etc)
  • Small amount of flour (to represent Temple offerings)
  • Jar to keep flour in
  • Bottle of wine or grape juice
  • Glasses for the wine / grape juice
  • Tallit (if you have one; if you don’t, something to cover your head in prayer)
  • A small, kosher but non-Jewish dish
  • One small green, leafy branch of something to wave in victory

Preparing the Seder

Cutlery, glasses and dishes are already set in their places.

Ideally, everyone should be seated in a horse-shoe pattern, either at a table or more traditionally on cushions on the floor. The main reader is in the centre. If you are in a group, the horse-shoe pattern becomes more important, as someone will have to reach in among everyone to set things down.

Whenever anything has finished being served, or items are brought up, they are put in the centre of everyone. If you are by yourself, then it is more practical to put everything to one side – to your right or left – when you have done with things.

Also, if you are in a group, then it is only fair that everyone takes their turn to bring things as they are mentioned in the story. If you are by yourself, then have everything close to hand – don’t wear yourself out by having to get up all the time!

And finally – enjoy yourself! Have fun!

The Chanukkah Seder

(Have the room in darkness, then light one solitary candle at the head of the table to read by)

“We bless You and honour You, O YHVH our God, for You have sanctified our lives by Your holy ways, and blessed us with Your Presence; behold our gathering, as this season of joy begins. Amein

Part One: Opening the Gathering

Stand at the door to the room and read the following letter:

Greetings, and good peace. May God do good to you, and may God remember God’s covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, God’s faithful servants. May God give you all a heart to worship God, and to do God’s will with a strong heart and a willing spirit. May God open your heart to God’s Torah and God’s commandments, and may God bring you peace. May God hear your prayers and be reconciled to you, and not forsake you in time of evil.” (from 2Macc 1:1-5)

“Since we are about to celebrate the festival of the Purification of the Temple, we are writing to you requesting you also to please celebrate the festival. It is God who has saved all the people, and who has restored to all of them their heritage, the kingdom, the priesthood, and the sacred rituals, as God promised through Torah. We trust in God, that God will soon have mercy on us and gather us together from everywhere under the heavens to the Holy Place; for God has rescued us from great perils and has purified the Holy Place”. (from 2Macc 2:16-18)

All be seated, and say:

Happy is the one who does not follow
the counsel of the wicked,
Or copy the lifestyle of sinners,
or join in the company of the irreverent,
But who delights in the Torah of YHVH,
and meditates on God’s teaching day and night.
That one is like a tree
planted near running water,
which yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade;
whatever they do, they prosper.

Part two: God’s Blessings upon Israel

1. In the beginning, when all was formless and empty, God created Light. (Gen 1:3)

(Light the first lamp. Light each lamp separately with a single match.)

Then write the word “OR” אור in Hebrew letters; it is the Hebrew word for “Light”. If you cannot write Hebrew, simply write “OR”.

2. God made covenants with Abraham and all his descendants, promising to be Israel’s God forever. (Gen 15:1)

(light the second lamp)

Then write the word “BRIT” ברית in Hebrew letters; it is the Hebrew word for “Covenant”. If you cannot write Hebrew, simply write “BRIT”.

3. God brought us out of the land of Egypt, from a state of slavery (Ex 20:2)

(light the third lamp)

Bring out a matzah, say:

“We bless you and honour you, O YHVH our God, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, and gave us the grain of the earth, that we might make bread to eat as food. Amen.”

then break the matzah in half, distribute one half to eat, and keep the remainder in the middle of the group.

4. God gave us the Torah at Sinai (Ex 34)

(light the fourth lamp)

Bring out a copy of The Torah; a complete Miqra (bible) will do if you haven’t got a Chumash.

5. God gave us the Sabbath, as a covenant for all time. (Ex 31:16-17)

(light the fifth lamp)

Bring out a loaf of Challah, but don’t eat it yet. If you haven’t got challah – Sabbath bread – then a single whole loaf of leavened bread will do.

6. God brought us to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. (Deut 11:9)

(light the sixth lamp)

Bring out the milk and honey. Say over the Challah,

“We bless You and honour You, O YHVH our God, for You have given us the grain of the earth, that we might make bread”. Amein

Then break the Challah, distribute it, and dip it in the honey, then the milk.

7. And we built High Places, Altars and a great Temple to make sacred offerings to YHVH our God. (1Kgs 6)

(light the seventh lamp)

Bring out a basket of fruit, a jar of flour, and a bottle of wine. Say over everything:

“We bless You and honour you, O YHVH our God, for you give us the produce of the earth, and the fruit of the vine, that we may rejoice, and revere your presence”. Amein

Pour some of the wine and distribute it. Drink some of the wine, eat some of the fruit. Whatever is left, put it all in the middle with everything else.

8. And we ascended the Mountain of YHVH to pray to the Most High God

(light the eighth lamp)

Bring out a Siddur – prayerbook, and place it with everything else.

And we looked upon the fringes of our tallit, and saw the blue cord, and remembered the commandments of our God

Stand away from the lamps and any candles for safety, and put on a Tallit. Then put on the room lights.

And we sang in the Presence of YHVH our God, and rejoiced:

“The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the dome of the sky proclaims God’s handiwork.
Each day proclaims the fact to the next,
each night imparts this knowledge to the next.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out to all the earth, their words to the ends of the known world.

The precepts of YHVH are right, giving joy to the heart,
the commandments of YWHH are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Reverence of YHVH is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of YHVH are sure, and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, much more than a heap of pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey straight from the comb”.
          (psalm 19:1-4, 7-10)

Part three: The growing assimilation

Take the Tallit from one’s head, but keep it around one’s shoulders.

“After Alexander the Macedonian, Philip’s son, who came from the land of the Kittim, had defeated Darius, King of the Persians and the Medes, he became king in his place, having first ruled in Greece. He fought many campaigns, captured fortresses, and put kings to death. He advanced to the ends of the earth, gathering plunder from many nations”.

            (1Macc 1:1-3)

And in the year 333 BCE, Alexander the Macedonian advanced to the gates of Jerusalem, and its inhabitants surrendered peacefully. Thus Alexander conquered Judea, without killing anyone. He and his people introduced Hellenistic ways, without forbidding the Jewish religion, and many thought that the new ways were good.

“In those days there appeared in Israel those who seduced many people, saying, ‘Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us’. The proposal was agreeable; some from among the people promptly went to the king, and he authorised them to introduce the Hellenistic way of living”.

            (adapted from 1 Macc 1:11-13)

And so some of us dressed like the Hellenists

Take off the Tallit and put it to your side.

And some of us ate like the Hellenists

Bring in and eat from the ‘Greek Dish’

And some of us spoke and wrote like the Hellenists

Take the paper with the Hebrew words “OR” and “BRIT” and obliterate them, and write the Greek words Gymnasium and Philosophia – two things which the Hellenists introduced.

“Alexander had reigned twelve years when he died. So his officers took over his kingdom, each in his own territory, and after his death they put on royal crowns, and so did their sons after them for many years, causing much distress over the land”.

Part four: The suppression of the Jewish Religion

So it was, that in 175 BCE, Antiochus Epiphanes came to power, and seven years later was at the gates of Jerusalem.

“After Antiochus had defeated Egypt, he returned and went up to Israel and to Jerusalem with a strong force. He insolently invaded the sanctuary and took away the golden altar, the lampstand for the light with all its fixtures, the offering table, the cups and the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the golden ornament on the façade of the Temple. He stripped off everything, and took away the gold and silver and the precious vessels; he also took away all the hidden treasures he could find. Taking all this, he went back to his own country, after he had spoken with great arrogance and shed much blood”. (1Macc 1:20-24)

Remove all the cutlery, glasses, plates, bowls, and anything else on the table, so that it is all bare.

“And there was great mourning for Israel,

in every place where they dwelt,
and the rulers and the elders groaned.
Young men and women languished,
and the beauty of women was disfigured.
Every bridegroom took up lamentation,
she who sat in the bridal chamber mourned,
And the land was shaken on account of its inhabitants,
and all the house of Jacob was covered with shame”. (1 Macc 1:25-28)

Put out the room lights. Someone shoudl stand by to switch them on again after the last lamp has been extinguished. If you are by yourself, return now to your seat, and go back to the room lights once all the eight lamps have been extinguished.

8. And they forbade our customs and our festivals

(Put away Tallit)

(put out the eighth lamp)

7. And they forbade Jewish prayer

(Put away Siddur)

(put out seventh lamp)

6. And they forbade our offerings and sacrifices

(Put away wine, fruit, and flour)

(put out sixth lamp)

5. And they built altars to their pagan gods on our sacred land

(Put away the milk and honey)

(put out the fifth lamp)

4. And they forbade observance of the Sabbath

(Put away the bread)

(put out fourth lamp)

3. And they forbade study of Torah

(Put away the bible)

(put out third lamp)

2. And they tried to break us away from the covenants made with us and our ancestors by forbidding the practice of circumcision

(put out second lamp)

1. And when all these things were put away and discarded, we saw that they had forbidden us to be Jews.

(put out first lamp. You should now be in darkness, except for the solitary candle that you read by)

Part Five: The fight back

The one who switched the room lights off should wait a few seconds then shout,


then switch the lights back on.

In Mode’in in the Land of Israel, there arose a family, the Hasmoneans, led by Matithyahu, who refused the pagan ways; they refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and instead they remained faithful to God’s Covenant and Torah. They gathered about them many followers, who also refused to assimilate and follow pagan customs and traditions.

And they, the Hasmoneans and their followers, fought against their oppressors, and with the help of YHVH the Almighty and Great God, they won and were victorious; they were few, but they overcame the great and mighty. As it is said, “The race does not always go to the swift, nor does victory always go to the mighty”. (Ecc 9:11)

“I will give thanks to You, O YHVH, with all my heart;
I will declare all Your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, Most High,
Because my enemies are turned back,
overthrown and destroyed before You.

For You upheld my right and my cause,
seated on Your throne, judging justly.
You rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
their name You blotted out forever and ever.
The enemies are ruined completely forever;
the remembrance of the cities You uprooted has perished”. (Psalm 9:1-6)

Bring back the Torah (or Miqra), waving a palm frond or a green branch of something in victory, and place the Torah on a cushion in the centre of everyone.

“My heart is steadfast O God;

my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and chant praise.
Awake, O my soul;
awake O lyre and harp;
I will wake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O YHVH
I will chant your praise among the nations!” (Psalm 57:7-9)

(continue reading):

Part six: The Rededication of The Temple

“Then Judah and his brothers said, ‘Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it.’ So the whole army assembled, and went up to MountZion. They found the sanctuary desolate, the altar desecrated, and the gates burnt. In the courts they saw weeds growing, as in a forest or on some mountain, and the priests’ chambers demolished. Then they tore their clothes and made great lamentation; they sprinkled their heads with ashes and fell with their faces to the ground. And when the signal was given with trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.”

“So Judah appointed men to fight against those in the citadel, while he purified the sanctuary. He chose blameless priests, devoted to Torah; these purified the sanctuary and carried away the stones of Abomination to an unclean place. They deliberated what ought to be done with the altar of burnt offerings that had been desecrated. The happy thought came to them to tear it down, lest it be a lasting shame to them that the pagans had defiled it; so they tore down the altar. They stored the stones in a suitable place on the Temple Mount, until a prophet should come and decide what to do with them. Then they took uncut stones, according to Torah, and built a new altar like the former one. They also repaired the sanctuary and the interior of the Temple and purified the courts. They made new sacred vessels and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the Temple.”

“Then they burned incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and these illuminated the Temple. They also put loaves on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken”. (1 Macc 4:36-51)

Bring back all the cutlery, plates, glasses, etc and relay the table.

“Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Kislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight,* they arose and offered sacrifice according to Torah on the new altar of burnt offerings that they had made. On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day, it was rededicated with songs, harps, flutes and cymbals. All the people prostrated themselves, and adored and praised YHVH, who had given them success”. (1 Macc 4:52-55) *that is, 14th December, 164 BCE

And so we proclaim and affirm,

1. We SHALL worship YHVH, and YHVH alone!

(light first lamp)

2. We SHALL hold to our covenants with YHVH!

(light second lamp)

3. We SHALL be a free people!

(light third lamp)

4. We SHALL choose Torah!

(light fourth lamp)

5. We SHALL observe Shabbat!

(light fifth lamp)

6. We SHALL treasure our culture!

(light sixth lamp)

7. We SHALL practise our religion, in the way which YHVH our God has ordained!

(light seventh lamp)

8. And we shall pray to YHVH, and YHVH alone!

(light eighth lamp)

“YHVH, YHVH our God, creator of all things, awesome and strong, just and merciful, the only Sovereign and benefactor, who alone is gracious, just, almighty, and eternal, Israel’s saviour from all evil, who chose our ancestors and sanctified them, accept our offerings on behalf of your people Israel, and guard and sanctify your heritage. Gather together our scattered people, free those who are the slaves of the Gentiles, look kindly on those who are despised and detested, and let the Gentiles know that you are our God. Punish those who tyrannically act over us, and arrogantly mistreat us. Plant your people in your holy place, as Moses promised.” (2 Macc 1:24-29)

Part seven: The festive meal

Now serve the main meal. It is good to have traditional, joyous music playing in the background while the meal is being eaten. If you have any special lights or lamps to decorate the room, these can be turned on or lit at the beginning of the meal, and the meal served in the glow and atmosphere of these lights.

Part Eight: The close of the meal

(at the end of the meal, serve the remainder of the wine, and make a toast):

To the victory of the Kingdom of YHVH our God!

(all drink and empty their glass).

We bless You and thank You, O YHVH our God, for all we have eaten, for all that we have drunk, for all that we have enjoyed, and for all the bounty You have given us. Amen

“The house of Israel trusts in YHVH;
God is their help and their shield.
The house of Aaron trusts in YHVH;
God is their help and their shield.
Those who revere YHVH trust in YHVH;
God is their help and their shield.”

“YHVH remembers us and will bless us;
God will bless the house of Israel;
God will bless the house of Aaron;
God will bless those who revere YHVH,
both the small and the great”. (Psalm 115:9-13)

“For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar, and joyfully offered burnt offerings and sacrifices of deliverance and praise. They ornamented the façade of the Temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests’ chambers and furnished them with doors. There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the pagans was removed. Then Judah and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev”. (adapted from 1 Macc 4:56-59)

Observances on each of the eight days of the festival


There are no special observances for the second to seventh day of Chanukkah, apart from lighting the neirot (lights or lamps), and reciting a portion of the Hallel (the psalms of praise, psalms 115 to 118).

If one wishes, as a symbol of how the Temple and the Mishkan (Tabernacle) were dedicated by the bringing of offerings each day (Numbers, chapter 7), you can put together some money or food each day, and on the last day, after dedicating it to God, one can then donate this to charity. This is however, not an established custom, and remains personal choice.

The lighting of the lamps

Again, as a symbol of the counting down of the Temple sacrifices, I suggest that we light 8 lights on the first evening, seven lights on the second evening, six on the third, and so on, down to one light on the last evening. This does have ancient precedence – the Shammaite school followed this practice since it was an existing and established practice, and the ordinary people also followed it).

Reciting the Hallel

On each of the second to the seventh nights, after lighting the lights, recite the following portions;

Portion for the 2nd night

Not to us, O YHVH, not to us,
rather to your name shall honour be given,
because of your merciful love, because of your faithfulness.

Why do the Gentiles say,
“So where is your God?”
When our God is in heaven;
whatever is God’s delight, God does.
Their pagan idols are silver and gold,
the making of human hands.

They have mouths, but cannot speak;
and eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear;
and noses, but cannot smell.
With their hands, they cannot feel,
with their feet, they cannot walk;
and their throats do not issue a sound.

All who made them and trust in them
will become like the pagan idols they have made.

Trust in YHVH, all you people;
God is your help and your shield.
Trust in YHVH, you priests and elders;
God helps you and protects you.
Trust in YHVH, all you who revere God in awe;
God is your help and your protection.

Portion for the 3rd night

YHVH will remember us and bless us;
God will bless the house of Israel;
God will bless the house of Aaron;
God will bless those who revere God in awe,
the great and the small alike.

May YHVH increase you in number,
you and your children also.
May you be blessed by YHVH,
the Maker of heaven and earth!
The heavens belong to YHVH
but the earth God gave over to humanity.
We will bless YHVH
now and forever.

Praised be YHVH!

I love YHVH,
for God hears my voice and my pleas,
and God turns an ear to me whenever I call.
The bonds of death encompassed me;
the torments of Sheol overtook me.
I came upon trouble and sorrow,
and I invoked the name of YHVH,
“O YHVH, save my life!”

YHVH is gracious and beneficent;
our God is compassionate.

Praised be YHVH!

Portion for the 4th night

YHVH is gracious and beneficent;
our God is compassionate.
YHVH protects the simple;
I was brought low and God saved me.
Be at rest, once again, O my soul,
for YHVH has been good to you.
You my God have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before YHVH in the lands of the living.
I trust in YHVH;

Out of great suffering I spoke and said rashly,
“All people are false!”

How can I repay YHVH
for all God’s bounties to me?
I raise the cup of delivereance
and invoke the name of YHVH.
I will fulfill my vows to YHVH
in the presence of all God’s people.
The death of God’s faithful
is grievous in YHVH’s sight.

I am your servant,
Your servant, the son of your maidservant;
You have undone the cords that bound me.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you,
and invoke the name of YHVH.
I will fulfill my vows to YHVH
in the presence of all God’s people,
in the courts of the House of YHVH,
in the midst of you, Jerusalem.

Praised be YHVH!

Portion for the 5th night

Praise YHVH, all you nations!
Extol God, all you peoples,
for great is God’s steadfast love towards us;
the faithfulness of YHVH endures forever.

Praise be YHVH!

Praise YHVH, for God is good,
God’s steadfast love is eternal.
Let Israel declare,
“God’s steadfast love is eternal”.
Let the house of Aaron declare,
“God’s steadfast love is eternal”.
Let those who revere YHVH in awe declare,
“God’s steadfast love is eternal”.

In distress I call on YHVH;
YHVH answered me and brought me relief.
YHVH is on my side:
I have no fear –
What can anyone do to me?
With YHVH on my side as my helper,
I will see the downfall of my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in YHVH
than to trust in mortals;
It is better to take refuge in YHVH
than to trust in the great.

Praise be YHVH!

Portion for the 6th night

All nations have beset me;
by the name of YHVH I will surely defeat them.
They beset me, they surround me;
by the name of YHVH I will surely defeat them.
They have beset me like bees;
they shall be extinguished like burning thorns;
by the name of YHVH I will surely defeat them.

The enemy pressed me hard,
I nearly fell;
but YHVH helped me.
YHVH is my strength and might;
God has become my deliverance.
The tents of the victorious resound with joyous shouts of deliverance,
“The right hand of YHVH is triumphant!
The right hand of YHVH is exalted!
The right hand of YHVH is triumphant!”

I shall not die, but I shall live
and proclaim the works of YHVH.
YHVH tested me severely,
but did not hand me over to death.

Praise be YHVH!

Portion for the 7th night

Open the gates of victory to me,
that I may enter them and praise YHVH.
This is the gateway to YHVH –
the victorious and righteous shall enter through it.

I praise you, for you have answered me,
and have become my deliverance.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
This is YHVH’s doing;
it is marvellous in our sight.
This is the day that YHVH has made –
let us rejoice and exalt in it!

O YHVH, deliver us!
O YHVH, let us prosper and succeed!

May those who enter be blessed in the name of YHVH;
we bless you from the House of YHVH.
YHVH is God;
God has given us light;
With branches of victory in our hands, we rejoice.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
You are my God, and I will extol you.
Praise YHVH, for God is good,
God’s steadfast love is eternal.

Praise be YHVH!




Once again, there are no special customs for the last day, but we are human beings, and we need ‘closure’ so to speak.

(By ‘last day’, I specifically refer to the final hours of the eighth day; the evening of the last day, when you light the last single chanukkah light, is in fatc the BEGINNING of the eighth day).

What I would suggest is this as the last day draws to a close:

– take down all decorations
– light one candle and say a blessing
– read 2Macc 1:18-36
– have a good meal


Take down all greenery and decorations that you have put up for the festival (just as the booth is taken down as the last day of Sukkot draws to a close).


Light one single candle (NB This is not the last neir [lamp] of Hanukkah – you would have lit that the evening before. This is a single, stand-alone candle).

And say:

“We bless you and honour you, O YHVH our God, for you have brought us to the close of this season of celebration; as we gaze upon this light, may we never forget what we have remembered at this season.”


Then read the story about the fire of Nehemiah (2 Maccabees, chapter 1, verse 18 to 36):


Since on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev we shall celebrate the purification of the temple, we thought it necessary to notify you, in order that you also may celebrate [ . . . . ] the feast of the fire given when Nehemiah, who built the temple and the altar, offeredsacrifices.

For when our ancestors were being led captive to Persia, the pious priests of that time took some of the fire of the altar and secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry cistern, where they took such precautions that the place was unknown to any one.

But after many years had passed, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to get it. And when they reported to us that they had not found fire but thick liquid, he ordered them to dip it out and bring it.

And when the materials for the sacrifices were presented, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and what was laid upon it. When this was done and some time had passed and the sun, which had been clouded over, shone out, a great fire blazed up, so that all marvelled.

And while the sacrifice was being consumed, the priests offered prayer – the priests and every one. Jonathan led, and the rest responded, as did Nehemiah.

The prayer was to this effect:

“O YHVH, YHVH our God, Creator of all things, who is awe-inspiring and strong and just and merciful, who alone is Soverign and is kind, who alone is bountiful, who alone is just and almighty and eternal, who rescues Israel from every evil, who chose our ancestors and consecrated them, accept this sacrifice on behalf of all your people Israel and preserve your portion and make it holy. Gather together our scattered people, set free those who are slaves among the Gentiles, look upon those who are rejected and despised, and let the Gentiles know that you are our God. Afflict those who oppress and are insolent with pride. Plant your people in your holy place, as Moses said.”

Then the priests sang the hymns. And when the materials of the sacrifice were consumed, Nehemiah ordered that the liquid that was left should be poured upon large stones. When this was done, a flame blazed up; but when the light from the altar shone back, it went out.

When this matter became known, and it was reported to the king of the Persians that, in the place where the exiled priests had hidden the fire, the liquid had appeared with which Nehemiah and his associates had burned the materials of the sacrifice, the king investigated the matter, and enclosed the place and made it sacred.

And with those persons whom the king favoured he exchanged many excellent gifts. Nehemiah and his associates called this “nephthar,” which means purification, but by most people it is called “naphtha”.


In ancient times, it was traditional to have a festive meal on the afternoon of Rosh Chodesh (New Moon day). A Rosh Codesh occurs towards the end of the festival, usually on the 6th or 7th day of the festival. The Isrealite tribes would pick one Rosh Chodesh in the year to hold their tribal fathering, and hold a feast.

Using this as precedent, you can use the afternoon of Rosh Chodesh to hold a meal for your extended family. This meal is especially suitable for those families who are not all of the same faith (ie who are non-Israelite). It gives a common point of contact for an extended family that would not normally mix due to having differing faiths.



As a final meal on the 8th day, I would suggest having a big meal that is particular to your own country or culture. In my family, we have the festive seder on the first night, and on the last night, we have a massive Sri Lankan meal. The meal alone gives the day a special atmosphere.

In remembrance of the close of the rededication ceremony, during the meal you can have a seven-branched menorah, with all seven candles lit.

At the end of the meal, say the blessing for the meal:

“We bless you and thank you, O YHVH our God, for all we have eaten, for all that we have drunk, for all that we have enjoyed, and for all the bounty you have given us. Amen”

“And there was very great gladness among the people” (1 Maccabees 4:58)