Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Hanukkah Menorah
Hanukkah, one of the most iconic and widely recognized Jewish holidays, will soon be upon us, starting at sundown on Sunday, November 28 and lasting eight nights. The most central Hanukkah ritual is the lighting of the menorah, and in turn, the menorah has become an essential and beloved piece of Judaica in Jewish homes all over the world, often decoratively displayed the rest of the year as well. For more details on where the menorah comes from and the rituals of lighting one, check out our Hanukkah menorah 101 blog post.
Our store has over 200 Israeli-made Hanukkah menorahs, and to help you choose the right one for you, we've put together the below guide on everything you need to know and consider before buying one, including a breakdown of all the different styles.
What does a proper Hanukkah menorah look like?
Hanukkah menorahs, sometimes also called hanukkiahs or hanukkiot, have nine candleholders – eight that are of equal height and arranged in a single straight row, and a ninth candleholder for the shamash (helper candle) that is set slightly apart from the others, at a different height or off to the side. We start off with one candle in addition to the shamash, and on each night of the holiday we add another candle until all nine are lit on the last night.
As long as these specifications are met, Hanukkah menorahs can take many shapes – from traditional candelabras with curved branches or straight lines resembling an upside-down triangle, to low bases with candleholders in a straight line, to intricate brass boxes or creative, kid-friendly shapes. They can also be made out of any fire-safe material – and indeed, throughout Jewish history Hanukkah menorahs have taken many fascinating shapes and used various creative materials!
Seven-branched menorahs also still exist today – but these are used for decorative purposes and are not actually for the holiday. When shopping for Hanukkah, be sure to browse under our Hanukkah menorahs category!
Menorah or hanukkiah?
Technically, menorah just means “lamp” in Hebrew, and any candelabra can be called a menorah – and in Modern Hebrew, this includes even regular electric lamps! For this reason, Israelis and some other Hebrew speakers distinguish the special Hanukkah menorah by calling it a hanukkiah (sometimes also spelled chanukiah). However, most diaspora Jews only use the word “menorah” in the context of Hanukkah, so the word has retained a connection to the holiday and is the more common term used outside Israel.
Oil or candles?
Do you prefer to harken back to the ancient Holy Temple and the miracle of oil by using an oil menorah? Or a candle menorah adorned with the more modern wax candles, which has been a classic Hanukkah look for generations? Oil cups can be less messy, especially our gelled versions that stay solid and don't spill, but candles can be more affordable and come in a wider variety of colors and patterns.
Either way is perfectly fine depending on your preference and can be a beautiful way of commemorating the Festival of Lights, and we carry menorahs that are designed for oil, candles, or both - as well as the appropriate gelled oil cups and candles themselves.
Where will your menorah be displayed?
There are different customs regarding where to place the menorah - in a windowsill, near a doorway, on a table in central location in the home, or outside. Consider where you would like to place your menorah and how visible you'd like it to be when choosing the most suitable one for your home.
Should you get more than one?
That's completely up to you and your family's custom - some light one menorah on behalf of the entire household, while others hold by a custom of every member of the family lighting their own individual menorah. And many children particularly enjoy lighting their own, so check out our specially-made kids' menorahs! There's also nothing against lighting more than one for yourself or your family, so you may want to consider beautifully adorning your windows with multiple menorahs if your budget allows it!
What style of menorah should you choose?
Today Hanukkah menorahs come in various shapes, sizes, materials, and styles, so depending on your taste and needs, there is something for everyone! To help you decide which style is right for you, below is a breakdown of all the different types of menorahs sold in our store:
You can never go wrong with a classy, traditional Hanukkah menorah! Traditional menorahs often have curved branches atop a tall base with the shamash in the middle, or a rectangular line of candleholders set into a low base with the shamash raised in the middle or to the side. Connect with your Jewish heritage through a traditional menorah, and have a timeless piece of Judaica to adorn your home!
If your taste is more contemporary, one of our trendy, modern menorahs is sure to appeal to your fashion-forward style! These exciting and cutting-edge designs are perfect for anyone who loves a bold look, and will stand out beautifully in your home while you carry on Jewish tradition in a modern flavor.
Hanukkah menorahs from the Israel Museum are a particularly special way of celebrating Jewish heritage - they bridge the past with the present by replicating genuine historic artifacts from Jewish communities around the world, in the form of functional menorahs that you can use in your own home for your holiday rituals! Each piece comes with a certificate of authenticity from the Israel Museum and a description of its historical background in both English and Hebrew. Part of the proceeds from your purchase goes to funding the Museum, so you'll be supporting a world-renowned institution dedicated to preserving Jewish and Israeli culture and history!
❤︎ We love this glass and brass adaptation of an ancient menorah discovered in a 6th-century synagogue in Ein Gedi in the Land of Israel, as well as this polished brass replica menorah, in a 20th-century design from Central Europe that features curved branches to invoke the ancient Temple and a Star of David on top in nod to modern Zionism.
While all of our products are made by Israeli artists and craftsmen, our designer menorahs are particularly luxurious and offer a high-end, unique way of celebrating the Festival of Lights. Add one of these stunning pieces to your family Judaica collection, and connect with the Land of Israel through one of its renowned artists!
In many homes, children help kindle the family menorah or even have their own individual one to light, and this beautiful tradition helps the younger generation connect to their Jewish heritage and foster a sense of Jewish pride. A great way to make this an even more engaging experience for the little ones is through a fun, colorful Hanukkah menorah made in a special child-friendly design!
Don't forget to get the appropriate candles or oil so you can light your Hanukkah menorah! Check out our beautiful variety of pre-filled oil cups and wax candles from Israel in sets that’ll last all 8 nights. Whether you prefer oil per our ancient tradition, harkening back to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; classic white candles like the kind used by Jews for generations; or multicolored candles that can be arranged into colorful patterns - we have something for everyone!
❤︎ We love these classic white candles and these marbled multicolored candles, both handcrafted in the ancient Israeli mystical city of Safed, as well as this convenient set of pre-filled gelled olive oil cups.
Looking for more inspiration to help you choose the perfect menorah for your home or as a gift for a loved one?