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What Constitutes a Kosher Chanukah Menorah?

What Constitutes a Kosher Chanukah Menorah?


There are not very many requirements for a kosher menorah, and most—but not all—of the menorahs on the market are just fine. The basic elements of the menorah are eight candle (or oil) holders, and one more, that is set a bit higher or lower than the rest, for the shamash (attendant) candle.

That said, there are some factors to consider when purchasing a menorah:

  • The Chanukah lights can be either wax candles, or oil-fueled lights. Since the miracle of Chanukah transpired with olive oil—the little cruse of oil that lasted for eight days—the oil menorah is preferable to the candle one, and olive oil is the ideal fuel.
  • Whenever purchasing a mitzvah article, we try to buy the most beautiful one that is within our means. So, if at all possible, go for the silver menorah. Beautifying a mitzvah is our way of expressing our appreciation to G‑d, and how dearly we hold His commandments. (A beautiful menorah also makes for a beautiful centerpiece for your silver closet or mantelpiece . . .) See also Buy an expensive menorah or give the money to charity?
  • The eight candles of the menorah must be arranged in a straight line, not set in a semicircle. Similarly, the menorah’s lights should be level or on an even slant, not some randomly higher than others.
  • If it is an oil menorah, the oil cups must hold enough oil to burn for at least 1½ hours.1
  • Just in case you are considering constructing a mammoth menorah to better publicize the Chanukah miracle, the maximum height of a menorah is around 31 feet. People don’t normally look up higher than that height, and a menorah taller than that wouldn’t serve the intended purpose.

Click here to browse a large selection of kosher menorahs available for purchase.

Click here for more menorah-lighting information.

Wishing you a happy Chanukah!

Yours truly,
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg, Editorial Team


On the average Chanukah night, the menorah needs to burn for only one-half hour after dark. On Friday evenings, however, the menorah is kindled before sunset—but must still remain lit until one-half hour after dark, a timespan of approximately 1½ hours. This rule should also be kept in mind if purchasing candles for the menorah: the Friday night candles should be larger than the standard Israeli candles that last only a bit longer than half an hour.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Discussion (16)
December 20, 2016
To Miriam in LA
The candles need to be in a straight line so that it doesn't look like a bonfire, rather each candle is noticeable on its own.

We actually light from left to right, with the new candle always being lit first.
Eliezer Zalmanov
December 19, 2016
why do the candles need to be in a straight line and why do we lite from right to left
miriam fiber
los angeles
December 20, 2015
What candles do I have to use
Shaun Hilgenfeld
Crockett tx
November 12, 2014
I have an old menorah, which is a little bent a little towards the candle holder. its in a general straight line. Are we still kosher? =)
November 27, 2013
To Rodney
As long as the actual flames are on the same level and in one line, it is fine. Staff
November 27, 2013
Wine Barrel Candleholder
I have a decorative candle holder made from an old oak wine barrel slat which has 9 positions. The position in the middle is suitable for a separate candle holder to raise a shamus above the rest of the candles. The candles remaining candles will sit on an arc in terms of height, but in a straight line in the horizontal plane. Is this acceptable?
Western Cape
January 16, 2013
A non-Jew may create a menorah.
Malkie Janowski for
Coral Springs
January 10, 2013
Re: Extinguishing requirements
I have yet to encounter a menorah that does not self-extinguish.
Sammy Ekol
January 9, 2013
Who can make a menorah?

I am a metal worker and would like to make a menorah as a gift for a Jewish friend. I am not a Jew, would that be considered acceptable as long as I follow the design rules above? (Lights in a straight line and so on)

Any guidance appreciated.
RJS (Wales, UK)
December 11, 2012
Kosher chanukiyah
Why do all the candles (except the shamash) need to be in a straight line and the same height? What is the source and what is the reason?
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