Your Account: Login or Register

Hanukkah Liturgy

Each new day of Hanukkah begins on the Eve of that day, (this year beginning Tuesday evening, December 12th) with increasing numbers of candles from one until eight. The liturgy for Hanukkah at Shearith Israel includes our particular versions of the Sephardic chants for the Hanukkah candle-lighting blessings and Hanerot Halalu. Shearith Israel's text of Hanerot, interestingly, does not directly  mention warfare. Shearith Israel also chants all of Psalm 30 out loud each morning and evening: This is because Hanukkah's meaning is "[re]-dedication" or "[re]-consecration," and this Psalm  is entitled "A Psalm A Song of Dedication ("Hanukkat") of the House [of Worship]." Besides lighting at home, candles are lit at the evening services each night, and the hanukkiah/menorah is put out for display in the morning as well. As at all other synagogues, Al HaNissim is added in the thanksgiving sections of the Amidah and the Grace After Meals. At each morning service,  Sephardim  recite the blessing "ligmor et ha-hallel" and read all of the Hallel HaMitzri, Psalms 113-118. On Shabbat Hanukkah, Saturday, September 16th, the choir joins in the Hallel, and most of Psalm 118 is sung to the musical setting of the famous Sephardic French-Jewish operatic composer Jacques Fromental Halevy. Shearith Israel follows the usual practice of taking out the Torah and reading a section from the Book of Numbers having to do with the gifts given by the tribal leaders at the consecration/dedication of the Altar of the desert Tabernacle. On the first morning the reading begins with the Priestly Blessing, and on the last morning it concludes with the instructions for lighting the Tabernacle's seven-branched Menorah. The music included at Shearith Israel includes many versions of the familiar German-Ashkenazic Maoz Tzur melody [although the hymn itself is omitted], as well as the tune from Handel's "See the Conqu'ring Hero Comes" from his oratorio Judas Maccabeus. 

Commemorative Synagogue Plates

Plates depicting Shearith Israel's five historic synagogue buildings as well the Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI.

1954
Gershom Mendes Seixas

Gershom Mendes Seixas (1745-1816) was the first American-born spiritual leader of Shearith Israel.

1768