Some additional notes on menorot -- both the original and the special Hanukah version:

The "original" menora -- that used daily in the Temple -- had seven branches, as demanded by Exodus 25:31-40. The seventh was the shamash, or servant, light, as noted above. After the destruction of the Temples, it became tradition to build the menorot with any number of branches other than seven, so as to remember the tragedy and avoid blasphemy. In our modern times, many see this injunction fulfilled by use of electricity rather than oil, and thus seven-branched menorot can be seen gracing many a synagogue.

The Hanukah menora, or hanukiya, has nine branches -- the seven of the original, plus one for the miracle of the holiday, plus another for the shamash. In addition to the continuation of the Temple tradition, this last light is employed because the Hanukah lights are prohibited from common use; using a ninth light to light the other eight is supposed to discourage use of those eight for practical tasks.

On the first night of Hanukah, in addition to the prayer above, two more Hebrew blessings (brachot) are said, or more usually sung:

"Baruch ata Adonai, eloheinu melech haolam, sheasa nisim lavoteinu bayomim hahem bazman haze." Which translates (loosely): "Blessed are you Lord our God, King of the Universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days in this season"; and

The Shehecheyanu: "Baruch ata Adonai, eloheinu melech haolam, shehecheyanu, vkiyimanu, vhigiyanu, lazman haze". Which translates (again loosely): "Blessed are you Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has preserved us, nurtured us, and carried us to this season."

The former is said every night of Hanukah. The latter is said on the first night only; this prayer is not unique to Hanukah, for it is generally said upon the first occurrence of an event in the Jewish year.

The candles are placed in the menora right to left and lit left to right so as not to play favorites with directions or sides. One more is lit each night because the joy of Hanukah should increase, not decrease, as the holiday proceeds -- this according to Hillel.

The lights of the hanukiya are supposed to be placed somewhere visible to the outside world, unless doing so presents a danger to the lighter(s) -- thus to share the miracle with everyone.

Sources for this writeup included the Artscroll Siddur, Joseph Telushkin's Jewish Literacy, Alfred J. Kolatch's Jewish Book of Why, and 27 years of firsthand Judaism. Apologies for poor Hebrew transliteration and translation.

Submitted for due consideration in The Ninjagirls Christmas Special 2003.