Hanukkah celebrated in the Polish Sejm , Warsaw Hanukkah is celebrated with a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday, some are family-based and others communal. There are special additions to the daily prayer service , and a section is added to the blessing after meals.
There is no religious reason for schools to be closed, although in Israel schools close from the second day for the whole week of Hanukkah. Fried foods such as latkes potato pancakes , jelly doughnuts sufganiyot , and Sephardic bimuelos are eaten to commemorate the importance of oil during the celebration of Hanukkah. Some also have a custom of eating dairy products to remember Judith and how she overcame Holofernes by feeding him cheese, which made him thirsty, and giving him wine to drink.
When Holofernes became very drunk, Judith cut off his head. As a universally practiced "beautification" hiddur mitzvah of the mitzvah , the number of lights lit is increased by one each night. This differs from Sabbath candles which are meant to be used for illumination and lighting. Hence, if one were to need extra illumination on Hanukkah, the shamash candle would be available, and one would avoid using the prohibited lights.
Some, especially Ashkenazim, light the shamash candle first and then use it to light the others. It is Sephardic custom not to light the shamash first and use it to light the rest. Instead, the shamash candle is the last to be lit, and a different candle or a match is used to light all the candles. Some Hasidic Jews follow this Sephardic custom as well. Most Jewish homes have a special candelabrum referred to as either a Chanukiah the modern Israeli term or a menorah the traditional name, simply Hebrew for 'lamp'.
Many families use an oil lamp traditionally filled with olive oil for Hanukkah. Like the candle Chanukiah, it has eight wicks to light plus the additional shamash light. Schneerson called for public awareness and observance of the festival and encouraged the lighting of public menorahs. Accordingly, lamps are set up at a prominent window or near the door leading to the street.
It is customary amongst some Ashkenazi Jews to have a separate menorah for each family member customs vary , whereas most Sephardi Jews light one for the whole household. Only when there was danger of antisemitic persecution were lamps supposed to be hidden from public view, as was the case in Persia under the rule of the Zoroastrians , or in parts of Europe before and during World War II.
However, most Hasidic groups light lamps near an inside doorway, not necessarily in public view. Since candles may not be lit on Shabbat itself, the candles must be lit before sunset.
Therefore, the Hanukkah menorah is lit first with larger candles than usual,  followed by the Shabbat candles. At the end of the Shabbat, there are those who light the Hanukkah lights before Havdalah and those who make Havdalah before the lighting Hanukkah lights.
On the first night, the shehecheyanu blessing is added, making a total of three blessings. On the first night of Hanukkah one light candle or oil is lit on the right side of the menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first but it is lit first, and so on, proceeding from placing candles right to left but lighting them from left to right over the eight nights. Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam, she'asa nisim la'avoteinu ba'yamim ha'heim ba'z'man ha'ze. There are several different versions; the version presented here is recited in many Ashkenazic communities: Hanneirot hallalu anu madlikin 'al hannissim ve'al hanniflaot 'al hatteshu'ot ve'al hammilchamot she'asita laavoteinu bayyamim haheim, u bazzeman hazeh 'al yedei kohanekha hakkedoshim.
Vekhol-shemonat yemei Hanukkah hanneirot hallalu kodesh heim, ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtammesh baheim ella lir'otam bilvad kedei lehodot ul'halleil leshimcha haggadol 'al nissekha ve'al nifleotekha ve'al yeshu'otekha.
We kindle these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred , and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations.
Maoz Tzur Main article: Ma'oz Tzur In the Ashkenazi tradition, each night after the lighting of the candles, the hymn Ma'oz Tzur is sung. The song contains six stanzas. The first and last deal with general themes of divine salvation, and the middle four deal with events of persecution in Jewish history , and praises God for survival despite these tragedies the exodus from Egypt, the Babylonian captivity , the miracle of the holiday of Purim , the Hasmonean victory , and a longing for the days when Judea will finally triumph over Rome.
The familiar tune is most probably a derivation of a German Protestant church hymn or a popular folk song. In North America and in Israel it is common to exchange presents or give children presents at this time. In addition, many families encourage their children to give tzedakah charity in lieu of presents for themselves. In the days of the Hasmonean Mattathias, son of Johanan the high priest, and his sons, when the iniquitous Greco-Syrian kingdom rose up against Your people Israel, to make them forget Your Torah and to turn them away from the ordinances of Your will, then You in your abundant mercy rose up for them in the time of their trouble, pled their cause, executed judgment, avenged their wrong, and delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and insolent ones into the hands of those occupied with Your Torah.
Both unto Yourself did you make a great and holy name in Thy world, and unto Your people did You achieve a great deliverance and redemption.
Whereupon your children entered the sanctuary of Your house, cleansed Your temple, purified Your sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courts, and appointed these eight days of Hanukkah in order to give thanks and praises unto Your holy name. In addition, the Hallel praise Psalms — Psalms are sung during each morning service and the Tachanun penitential prayers are omitted.
Since Hanukkah lasts eight days it includes at least one, and sometimes two, Jewish Sabbaths Saturdays. The weekly Torah portion for the first Sabbath is almost always Miketz , telling of Joseph 's dream and his enslavement in Egypt. The Haftarah reading for the first Sabbath Hanukkah is Zechariah 2: When there is a second Sabbath on Hanukkah, the Haftarah reading is from 1Kings 7: The Hanukkah menorah is also kindled daily in the synagogue, at night with the blessings and in the morning without the blessings.
It still forms part of the liturgy of the Yemenite Jews. According to the teachings of Kabbalah and Hasidism , this day is the final "seal" of the High Holiday season of Yom Kippur and is considered a time to repent out of love for God. In this spirit, many Hasidic Jews wish each other Gmar chatimah tovah "may you be sealed totally for good" , a traditional greeting for the Yom Kippur season. It is taught in Hasidic and Kabbalistic literature that this day is particularly auspicious for the fulfillment of prayers.
It is also forbidden to fast or to eulogize during Hanukkah.