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Holiday Central > Chanukah > Menorah  > Chanukiya Placement
The Chanukiya Placement
By: Rivka C. Berman, Contributor
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Look closely for shoebox-sized recesses in the stone fronts of Old City Jerusalem homes. These are built-in chanukiyah (Chanukah Menorah) spaces to enable heads of households fulfill the purpose of lighting the chanukiyah: to publicize the Chanukah miracle. (The unique beauty of an outdoor chanukiyah has made them a favorite, if fragile, souvenir of Israel. They look like aquariums fitted with glass doors into which a chanukiyah may be placed.

In the Talmudic era lighting a menorah outside was the best way to get maximum Chanukah light visibility. After Jewish autonomy gave way to foreign rule and its companion, Jewish oppression, chanukiyahs began to be lit at street-side windows. This placement fulfilled the requirement that chanukiyah's flames promote the Chanukah miracle by seen by passersby and protected the chanukiyah from thieves and vandalism.

Maximum visibility remains the main concern when choosing a place for the chanukiyah. Apartment dwellers and others who live high above street level cannot be sure that pedestrians will crane their necks to see the chanukiyah. Therefore it is preferable for Jews in these homes to place their chanukiyahs in a frequently used doorway. Some Jews actually prefer this placement because by strategically setting a chanukiyah against the door post opposite the mezuzah, the prayer-inscribed scroll hung on the right door post. That way all who cross the threshold are surrounded by mitzvot with a chanukiyah on one side and a mezuzah on the other. 

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