Passover holiday candles are lit traditionally by the the eldest woman of the house no later than 18 minutes before sundown. If the Seder falls on a Saturday night, candles are lit after sunset and after Havdallah has been celebrated since we cannot kindle a new flame during Shabbat.
The earth turns from sunshine to dusk and then to darkness. As darkness descends, we prepare ourselves to light candles to welcome (Shabbat and) the festival of Pesach and as so often before, we assume the task of kindling candles in the night to enlighten the dark corners of our world. As we kindle these lights, we remember that our ancestors discovered freedom in the midst of the dark final night in Egypt. Behind us, though receding into the memories of even the oldest among us, we can still sense the fires of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, and we continue to face the terror of towers falling. We gather tonight to create from fire, not the heat of destruction, but the light of instruction; indeed to see more clearly the wisdom, strength and caring that glows from within each of us.
As we kindle the candles, we unite and identify ourselves with all Jews in other periods and places of our history. Let the candles we now light be a reflection of the light that shines within each one of us, and let that light radiate throughout our home. We praise the Source of Light that keeps alive the hope of freedom amidst the darkness of oppression.
WOMEN RISE AND SAY:
We are about to light the candles, officially heralding the beginning of (Shabbat and) this festival night. As we light these candles, we pray that all those suffering in the world find light amid the darkness. We pray that our experience today helps us to ignite the spark of justice within each of us. We pray that we have the strength to carry forth this light into our homes, schools, offices, and houses of worship, creating a beautiful and bold flame that inspires others to work for the freedom and security of all innocent people. May these candles, lit on the Festival of Freedom, bring light into our hearts and minds. May they renew our courage to act for justice and freedom here and now. May they illumine the path to truth, justice and peace. And so we repeat the ancient blessing:
If the Seder falls on a Friday night, we add the words in parentheses, Shabbat v'shel, to welcome the sabbath as well as Pesach.
ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של (שבת ושל) יום טוב
Transliteration: Baruch atah Adonai Elohaynoo melech ha-olam, asher keedshanoo b’meetzvotav v’tzeevanoo l’hadleek ner shel (Shabbat v’shel) yom tov.
English: Blesssed art thou, Lord our God, Whose presence fills the universe, Who has sanctified our lives through Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the Shabbat and festival lights.
ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה
Transliteration: Baruch atah Adonai Elohaynoo melech ha-olam, sheh-hech-chi-ahnoo, vih-kee-yih-mah-noo, vih-hig-ee-ahnoo, lahz-mahn, hazeh.
English: Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive and brought us to this happy moment in our lives.
Women recite in unison:
May these candles, lit on the Festival of Freedom, bring light into our hearts and minds. May they illuminate the path to truth, justice and peace. As we light these candles, we pray that all those suffering in the world find light amid the darkness. We pray that our experience today helps us to renew our commitment to act for justice and freedom. We pray that we have the strength to carry forth this light into our homes, schools, offices, and houses of worship, creating a beautiful and bold flame that inspires others to work for the freedom and security of the innocent people everywhere.
May it be Your will, God of our ancestors, that You grant our families and all Israel a good and long life. Remember us with blessings and kindness. Fill our home with your Divine Presence. Give us the opportunity to raise our children and grandchildren to be truly wise, lovers of God, people of truth, who illuminate the world with Torah, good deeds and the work of the Creator. Please hear our prayer at this time and regard us as worthy descendants of our matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and let the light of these candle burn and never be extinguished. Let the light of your face shine upon us.
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