The Hanukkah Essentials Buying Guide
Each year on the 25th of Kislev, something wonderful happens! Jews around the world begin celebrating the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, by lighting Menorahs in their windows and remembering the miracle of the tiny jug of oil that lasted eight days and nights. With plenty of bright and happy traditions, fun games, silly songs, and of course, lots of fried food, Hanukkah is a special time of year full of joy and laughter. Although few things are actually needed to observe this amazing holiday, the following items can really add to your Hanukkah experience and make it truly unforgettable, so continue reading below to see what you should add to this year’s holiday shopping list because Judaica WebStore has it all!
Okay, so this one’s pretty obvious, but did you know that there are many different kinds of Menorahs and not all of them are considered suitable for Hanukkah? Some Menorahs, such as ones with seven branches, don’t meet the requirements for Hanukkah, as they don’t hold the right number of candles, which is why these beautiful 7-Branched Menorahs are more often used for decorative purposes. Hanukkah Menorahs, on the other hand, have nine candleholders – eight that are of equal height and arranged in a single straight row, and a ninth candleholder for the Shamash (attendant candle) that is set slightly apart from the others. Sometimes called a Hanukkiah, these nine-candled candelabras are a vital part of Hanukkah, and each night, an additional candle is added to the Menorah until ultimately all eight candles are lit on the final night.
Both types of Menorahs are reminiscent of the grand candelabrum originally used in the First and Second Holy Temples, and they can come in any material, shape, style, and size. Many people prefer using tall, traditional Menorahs with curved branches like this wonderful Brass Replica from Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, although if that’s not your style, we have plenty of other exciting, modern options from Israel's most renowned designers! Don’t believe us? Just check out this chic, creative Menorah featuring grazing gazelle from artist Shraga Landsman! Or if you need something more youthful for the kids, Yair Emanuel has many colorful, charming Menorahs like this cute Fire Engine Menorah and more!
Going hand-in-hand with Hanukkah Menorahs, Hanukkah Candles are every bit as important as the Hanukkiah itself! As we mentioned earlier, each night we add another candle to our Menorahs, going from one candle to eight over the course of a couple of days. While some people feel that using oil is better, as it is more consistent with the Hanukkah theme, other people enjoy the colorful aesthetic that wax candles provide and choose them instead. Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter as both wax and oil candles fulfill the mitzvah equally so this is largely a matter of preference or dependant on the type of Menorah you have. Thankfully, many of today’s modern Hanukkah Menorahs can use both kinds of candles, so if your Hanukkiah is one of these versatile types and you’re not sure which candles you like best, we suggest you check out our amazing selection of high-quality Hanukkah Candles! Sure to burn brightly, we know you’ll just love these convenient Pre-Filled Gelled Olive Oil Cups or these eye-catching Multicolored Hand-Dipped Hanukkah Candles from the famed candlemakers of Tzfat!
This classic Jewish toy is one of the most recognized objects connected to Hanukkah and is part of a fun traditional game that Jewish children have played for generations! The beloved spinning top is famous for having 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 of course, 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.”
Like Menorahs, today’s Dreidels come in many sizes, shapes, and materials, and since there is no such thing as having too many Dreidels, why not add a fabulous new Israeli Dreidel to your collection? You’ll find a lovely variety of beautiful Dreidels here. If you're looking for something traditional and colorful, this stunningly painted Dreidel and Stand by Yair Emanuel might be the perfect one for you! Or perhaps you’d prefer something a bit more sophisticated like this gorgeous Mosaic Dreidel from Orit Grader!
When we hear the words “Hanukkah Gelt,” most of us envision a small bag of yummy chocolate coins wrapped in shiny gold or silver foil, but this wasn’t always the case. For those who are unfamiliar with the history of Hanukkah Gelt, before our modern chocolate treats existed, there was a beautiful age-old custom to give children small gifts of money during Hanukkah called “Gelt,” which literally translates to “Hanukkah money” in Yiddish. According to one source, the custom originated sometime in 17th century Poland to educate young children about the importance of giving charity, though children were eventually also given something extra to keep for themselves. Becoming an established Hanukkah tradition throughout Europe thanks to rabbis who supported the opportunity to impart core Jewish values onto the next generation as well as further commemorate the miracle of Hanukkah, the giving of Gelt is still considered one of Hanukkah’s most valuable traditions. 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. Fun and deliciously sweet, these foil-covered chocolate coins are perfect to use when playing Dreidel so make sure you stock up before Hanukkah with our Milk Chocolate Hanukkah Gelt from Israeli confectionary powerhouse, Elite!
Aside from lighting the Menorah and eating Sufganiot, another fun and special Hanukkah tradition is the giving of gifts! While it wasn’t always a custom, in the aftermath of WWII, when post-war consumerism in America grew, the giving of gifts became an increasingly popular extension of giving Hanukkah Gelt, spreading far and wide until Jews all over the world adopted the fun American practice of celebrating Hanukkah with gifts! Today, a lot of people like to look for holiday-themed gifts such as this adorable Sufganiah Bracelet Charm or Latke Recipe Apron from Barbara Shaw, although just about anything can be given, from DIY Candlemaking Kits to toys such as this cuddly TeddyBear!
Well, dear friends, that’s it! We’ve finally reached the end of our nifty little guide! We hope you find it helpful as you start preparing for Hanukkah. On behalf of Israel, we at Judaica WebStore would like to wish you a Hanukkah Sameach and hope that this year you have a wonderful Chag full of love, peace, and latke grease!
The Judaica Webstore Team