Your Hanukkah Essentials Buying Guide
The eight-day Festival of Lights is almost here! At sundown on Sunday, November 28, Jews around the world will light the first candle on their menorahs to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah (or Chanukah, depending on how you spell it). In addition to lighting a menorah, there are several other items that make Hanukkah celebrations even more festive.
If you want those eight nights to be extra special, purchasing your Hanukkah essentials from local Israeli artisans is the way to go. Like every product on our site, every menorah, candle, dreidel, and gift is made in the Holy Land by artists who draw their inspiration from Jewish tradition, the Land of Israel, and the modern state.
Shopping early ensures you receive everything you need in time for the Festival of Lights. From Judaica to gifts, we've rounded up the essentials you need to celebrate Hanukkah 2021:
Did you know there are actually different kinds of menorahs, and not all of them are considered suitable for Hanukkah? You might have seen 7-branched menorahs - these are sometimes used for decorative purposes in synagogues and homes and are on Israeli state emblems, but are not actually for the holiday. 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. 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.
✡ Today, menorahs come in many materials, styles, and sizes. Traditional menorahs often have curved branches with the shamash in the middle, like this classic brass replica menorah from Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, or a low base with the shamash raised to the side, like in this stunning klezmer-themed silver filigree menorah from Yemenite-Israeli artist Shoham Simchi.
✡ Another traditional style that's especially popular in Israel features glass cups, which can be used for either oil or candles, set inside a metal base, such as this intricate pomegranate-themed menorah from Israeli designer Dorit Judaica.
Hanukah menorahs were originally lit with oil, and while some people still prefer this traditional option, most menorahs today are lit with candles. It's entirely a matter of personal preference, and whether your menorah uses oil, candles, or can be lit with either, we carry multiple options of both.
This classic Hanukkah toy is part of a fun traditional game that Jewish children have played for generations, and can also make for a festive centerpiece for your holiday table! The beloved spinning top traditionally has four Hebrew letters decorating its sides: Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Shin, which form an acronym for the phrase, Nais Gadol Heiyah Sham – meaning, “a great miracle happened there” – referring to the miracle of Hanukkah that happened in Israel. In Israel, many dreidels have a Pey instead of a Shin, so that the acronym will more accurately stand for Nais Gadol Heiyah Po – “a great miracle happened here.”
✡ If you're looking for something traditional and colorful, this hand-painted wooden dreidel by Yair Emanuel might be the perfect one for you! Or perhaps you’d prefer something a bit more sophisticated like this intricate sterling silver dreidel from Shoham Simchi.
✡ For a more modern, artistic take on the dreidel, check out this Star of David dreidel with Swarovski crystals from Israeli design workshop Danon or these unique ceramic dreidels from Tel Aviv craftsman Eran Grebler.
These chocolate coins wrapped in shiny foil originated from an age-old custom to give children small gifts of money during Hanukkah called “gelt,” which literally translates to “Hanukkah money” in Yiddish. Today, some families continue the custom with actual money; however, with the 20th-century introduction of chocolate Hanukkah gelt, more and more families opt to give out chocolate coins instead.
✡ We offer fun and deliciously sweet milk chocolate Hanukkah gelt from Israeli confectionary powerhouse, Elite, exclusively made only during the Hanukkah season in Israel!
Another fun and special Hanukkah tradition is the giving of gifts! While it wasn’t always a custom, gift giving became an increasingly popular extension of giving Hanukkah gelt in post-WWII America, and spread to other Jewish communities around the world.
✡ Many people like to give holiday-themed gifts, such as this gorgeous gold and diamond dreidel pendant from Tel Aviv-based Yaniv Fine Jewelry or this fun latke recipe apron from Israeli designer Barbara Shaw.
✡ Other common gift categories include toys, like this cuddly Israeli flag teddy bear, or home décor such as this "Remember Jerusalem" wall hanging from Dorit Judaica or this illustrated Western Wall wooden clock from Ofek Wertman Design Studio.
Of course, the most common recipients of Hanukkah gifts are children! We have lots of Israeli-made Hanukkah gifts especially for kids, and have also put together this handy guide of our top favorites.