Candles and Judaism

Candles are used throughout  many religious occasions and carry a deep symbolic meaning.  Candles are lit to welcome Shabbat, then at  the end of Shabbat a Havdallah candle is lit to welcome the new week.  Candles are lit during Hanukkah or Chanukah for eight nights to remind us of the time we had enough oil for one night and it miraculaously lasted eight nights. Candles are lit on the eve of the Jewish Holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuot. Jewish tradition tells us to burn a 24 hour candle in memory of a loved one. We do this on their Yarzheit – the anniversary of their passing.   

Why do Jewish people light Candles? Candlelight is often thought of as a reminder of God's divine presence, and candles lit during Jewish holidays and on Shabbat serve as reminders that the occasion is holy and distinctly different from our day-to-day life.

Like a human soul, flames must breathe, change, grow, strive against the darkness, and ultimately, fade away. Thus, the flickering of candlelight helps to remind us of the precious fragility of our life and the lives of our loved ones, a life that must be embraced and cherished at all times.