To provide you with detailed guidance on certain key prayers and rituals, please see the information below. It contains actual prayers with transliteration and translations followed by explanations of the rituals involved.
We hope these insights help in your observation of important Jewish holidays throughout the calendar year..
Shabbat Prayers at Home
The Torah tells us not to burn a fire in our homes on the Sabbath day. Our sages understood this to mean that one should not light a fire on Shabbat, but one need not sit in the dark and cold on this day, which the prophet Isaiah called a “day of delight.” To emphasize this, the custom arose of lighting candles on the eve of Shabbat, no later than 18 minutes before sundown and reciting a blessing over this mitzvah (commandment). We use two candles to remind us of the two versions of the fourth commandment, “remember the Sabbath day to make it holy” in Exodus and “observe the Sabbath day...” in Deuteronomy. Some people add additional candles for each member of the household.
Before reciting the blessing, we light the candles, extend our hands toward the flames and then make two or three circular motions with our hands as if to bring the light closer. We cover our eyes as we recite or chant the blessing and then uncover our eyes to see the light of the candles. Some use this opportunity to pause and silently offer personal prayers on behalf of their families at this point.
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָאֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁרקִדְּשָֽׁנוּבְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּלְהַדְלִיקנֵרשֶׁלשַׁבָּת.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.
Praised are You, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, whose commandments bring holiness to our lives and who has commanded us to light the Sabbath candles.
As the family gathers around the table, we welcome the ministering angels of Shabbat whom the Talmud tells us accompany each person home on Friday evening, to bring blessing to the household.
שָׁלוֹםעֲלֵיכֶם, מַלְאֲכֵיהַשָּׁרֵת, מַלְאֲכֵיעֶלְיוֹן, מִמֶּֽלֶךְמַלְכֵיהַמְּלָכִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁבָּרוּךְהוּא.
בּוֹאֲכֶםלְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵיהַשָּׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵיעֶלְיוֹן, מִמֶּֽלֶךְמַלְכֵיהַמְּלָכִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁבָּרוּךְהוּא.
בָּרְכֽוּנִילְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵיהַשָּׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵיעֶלְיוֹן, מִמֶּֽלֶךְמַלְכֵיהַמְּלָכִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁבָּרוּךְהוּא.
צֵאתְכֶםלְשָׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵיהַשָּׁלוֹם, מַלְאֲכֵיעֶלְיוֹן, מִמֶּֽלֶךְמַלְכֵיהַמְּלָכִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁבָּרוּךְהוּא.
Shalom aleichem, malachei hashareit, malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ham’lachim, hakadosh baruch hu.
Boachem l’shalom,malachei hashalom, malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ham’lachim, hakadosh baruch hu.
Barchuni l’shalom, malachei hashalom, malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ham’lachim, hakadosh baruch hu.
Tzeitchem l’shalom, malachei hashalom, malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ham’lachim, hakadosh baruch hu.
Peace unto you, ministering angels, angels of the most High, from the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy Blessed One.
Come in peace, angels of peace, angels of the most High, from the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy Blessed One.
Bless us with peace, angels of peace, angels of the most High, from the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy Blessed One.
Depart in peace, angels of peace, angels of the most High, from the King of Kings of Kings, the Holy Blessed One.
Blessing Our Children
It is customary to offer blessings to our children (even grown children) at the Shabbat meal. We place our hands on their heads as we offer the appropriate blessing for boys or for girls and then the priestly blessing for all:
For our sons we pray:
Yesimcha Elohim k’Efrayim v’chi-Menashe.
May God bless you like Ephraim and Menashe.
For daughters we pray:
יְשִׂמֵךְאֱלֹהִיםכְּשָׂרָה, רִבְקָה, רָחֵלוְלֵאָה.
Yesimech Elohim k’Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel v’Leah.
May God bless you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.
And we add the priestly blessing for all our children:
יְבָרֶכְךָיְיָוְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ. יָאֵריְיָפָּנָיואֵלֶֽיךָוִיחֻנֶּֽךָּ. יִשָּׂאיְיָפָּנָיואֵלֶֽיךָוְיָשֵׂםלְךָשָׁלוֹם.
Y’varech-echa Adonay v’yishmerecha. Ya’eir Adonay panav elecha vichuneka. Yisa Adonay panav elecha v’yaseim l’cha shalom.
May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord smile upon you and be kind to you. May the Lord lift his face to you and give you peace.
Contrary to popular opinion, KIddush is not the blessing for wine. Rather, it is the blessing for the Sabbath Day, usually recited over wine (or grape juice). If there is no wine, one may make kiddush over bread and substitute the Hamotzi blessing for the Borei Pri Hagafen bracha in the middle. At home, we begin the kiddush by recalling the Creation story and how God rested and sanctified the seventh day as Shabbat. This is followed by the blessing for wine (or bread) and then the final paragraph, where we sanctify the Sabbath as a day of remembrance of Creation and of the Exodus from Egypt.
It is customary to fill the wine cup to the top and to pick up the cup with both hands as if receiving a gift. However, we then hold the cup in our stronger hand to indicate that this mitzvah is not a burden at all. Some stand for kiddush, others have the custom of sitting and some stand to recite it, but sit down to drink the cup.
יוֹםהַשִּׁשִּׁי. וַיְכֻלּוּהַשָּׁמַֽיִםוְהָאָֽרֶץוְכָלצְבָאָם. וַיְכַלאֱלֹהִיםבַּיּוֹםהַשְּׁבִיעִימְלַאכְתּוֹאֲשֶׁרעָשָׂה, וַיִּשְׁבֹּתבַּיּוֹםהַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִכָּלמְלַאכְתּוֹאֲשֶׁרעָשָׂה. וַיְבָֽרֶךְאֱלֹהִיםאֶתיוֹםהַשְּׁבִיעִיוַיְקַדֵּשׁאֹתוֹ, כִּיבוֹשָׁבַתמִכָּלמְלַאכְתּוֹ, אֲשֶרבָּרָאאֱלֹהִיםלַעֲשׂוֹת.
Yom HaShishi. Vay’chulu hashamayim v’ha-aretz v’chol tz’va-am. Vay’chal Elohim bayom hash’viyi m’lachto asher asah. Vayishbot bayom hash’viyi, mikol m’lachto asher asah. Vay’varech Elohim et yom hash’viyi vay’kadeish oto, ki vo shavat mikol m’lachto, asher bara Elohim la-asot.
The sixth day. The heavens and the earth were completed and all their host. God finished on the seventh day his labor which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all of his labor which he had done. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on it he had rested from all his labor which he had created to be done.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.
Praised are You Lord our God ruler of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine.
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָאֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁרקִדְּשָֽׁנוּבְּמִצְוֹתָיווְרָֽצָהבָֽנוּ, וְשַׁבַּתקָדְשׁוֹבְּאַהֲבָהוּבְרָצוֹןהִנְחִילָֽנוּזִכָּרוֹןלְמַעֲשֵׂהבְרֵאשִׁית, כִּיהוּאיוֹםתְּחִלָּהלְמִקְרָאֵיקֹֽדֶשׁ, זֵֽכֶרלִיצִיאַתמִצְרָֽיִם, כִּיבָֽנוּבָחַֽרְתָּוְאוֹתָֽנוּקִדַּֽשְׁתָּמִכָּלהָעַמִּים, וְשַׁבַּתקָדְשְׁךָבְּאַהֲבָהוּבְרָצוֹןהִנְחַלְתָּֽנוּ. בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָ, מְקַדֵּשׁהַשַּׁבָּת.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’ratza vanu, v’shabbat kodsho b’ahavah uv’ratzon hinchilanu, zikaron l’maasei v’reisheet. Ki hu yom techilah l’mikraei kodesh, zecher l’yetziyat mitzraim. Ki vanu vacharta v’otanu kidashta mikol ha-amim. V’shabbat kodsh’cha b’ahavah uv’ratzon hinchaltanu. Baruch ata Adonay, m’kadeish hashabbat.
Praised are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who has desired us and provided us with a path to holiness through the observance of mitzvot, and who lovingly and willingly has bestowed on us Shabbat, a measure of God’s holiness, a symbol of the work of creation. For it is the first of sacred times, a symbol of the exodus from Egypt. You have chosen us and sanctified us from among all peoples by lovingly and willingly bestowing on us Your holy Shabbat. Praised are you, Lord, who makes Shabbat holy.
Immediately after the blessing one should drink most of the cup of wine or juice.
Our homes are to be considered as miniature sanctuaries in the absence of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, our tables are the altars and each Jew serves as a priest, a kohen, at the table. To symbolize this, we follow some rituals that were performed in the Temple surrounding the sacrifices. We ritually wash our hands and we put some salt on the bread since all sacrifices were offered with salt.
Filling a cup with water, we pour some over our right hand and then over the left and again over the right and then the left.As we dry our hands, we recite the blessing below and afterwards we remain silent until we make the blessing for the bread.
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁרקִדְּשָֽׁנוּבְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּעַלנְטִילַתיָדָֽיִם.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al netilat yadayim.
Praised are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who has made us holy through His commandments and commanded us regarding the washing of our hands.
Two loaves of challah should sit on the table to remind us of the double portion of manna that the Israelites gathered in the wilderness on the day before Shabbat. The loaves should be whole loaves, though one can use rolls or a sheet of matzah for one or both, if you don’t need that much bread in the house. While all the preceding prayers are said, the challah remains covered. Since on a weekday, the blessing for bread usually precedes that for wine or other items, on Shabbat when we make kiddush over the wine, the wine blessing supercedes that for bread. In order not to “embarrass” the challah by slighting it in this way, we cover it over until we’re ready to make its blessing.
Now having washed our hands and waited silently for the rest of the family to do so, we uncover the challah, take up both loaves in our hands and offer the blessing for bread:
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, הַמּֽוֹצִיאלֶֽחֶםמִןהָאָֽרֶץ.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz.
Praised are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who bring bread forth from the earth.
We cut or tear the challah and distribute it to all with a bit of salt sprinkled on it. We now are ready to procede with the rest of our Shabbat meal.
Just as we begin Shabbat a bit early (some 18 minutes before the sun sets) when we light candles, so we delay the end of Shabbat after sunset. We wait for the stars to come out and once there are at least three medium sized stars in the sky, it is time to say Havdalah. On a cloudy or rainy night, we might not be able to see the stars so we go by the calendar. Though there are different traditions as to when we should end Shabbat, a good rule of thumb is to add about an hour to Friday’s candlelighting time and that should be about the right time to say Havdalah.
We need three items for the ceremony: a cup of wine or grapejuice, a box of spices and a braided candle. In the absence of wine or grapejuice, other beverages may be used and the appropriate blessing of Shehakol nihyeh bidvaro substituted. If you don’t have a fancy spicebox, you can use any container of spices. Usually, cinnamon or nutmeg or ginger are used or can be combined in your own container. (In a pinch, a teabag can do.) As for the braided Havdalah candle, you can use two regular candles with the wicks held together to make a flame, if you do not have the special candles. Our gift shop, however, does carry them. You may want to have a special plate or some aluminum foil to catch the drippings from the candle and to pour a bit of wine onto at the end to extinguish the candle.
A nice introductory tune is the following, which I learned from the congregation I served in Dallas, Texas, many years ago. The verse appears in the prayers at the end of Shabbat:
כִּיבְשִׂמְחָהתֵצֵֽאוּוּבְשָׁלוֹםתּוּבָלוּן, הֶהָרִיםוְהַגְּבָעוֹתיִפְצְחוּלִפְנֵיכֶםרִנָּה, וְכָלעַצֵיהַשָּׂדֶהיִמְחֲאוּכָף.
Ki v’simcha tetzeiu, uv’shalom tuvalun, he-harim v’hagvaot yiftz’chu lifneicham rinah v’chol atzei hasadeh yim-cha-u chaf.
With joy, you shall go forth and in peace you shal be led; the mountains and the hills shall burst into song before you and all the trees of the field shall applaud.
Light the Havdalah candle and give it to someone else to hold or put it into a holder. Fill the wine cup. The custom is to fill it to overflowing or at least have a full cup. Pick up the cup in your stronger hand and begin singing the introductory verses of havdalah:
הִנֵּהאֵליְשׁוּעָתִי, אֶבְטַחוְלֹאאֶפְחָד, כִּיעָזִּיוְזִמְרָתיָהּיְיָ, וַיְהִילִילִישׁוּעָה. וּשְׁאַבְתֶּםמַֽיִםבְּשָׂשׂוֹן, מִמַּעַיְנֵיהַיְשׁוּעָה. לַייָהַיְשׁוּעָה, עַלעַמְּךָבִרְכָתֶֽךָסֶּֽלָה. יְיָצְבָאוֹתעִמָּֽנוּ, מִשְׂגָּבלָנוּאֱלֹהֵייַעֲקֹבסֶֽלָה. יְיָצְבָאוֹת, אַשְרֵיאָדָםבֹּטֵֽחַבָּךְ. יְיָהוֹשִֽׁיעָה, הַמֶּֽלֶךְיַעֲנֵֽנוּבְיוֹםקָרְאֵֽנוּ.
Hinei El yeshuati, evtach v’lo efchad, ki ozi v’zimrat Yah, Adonay, vay’hi li lishuah. U-shavtem mayim b’sason, mi-may’nei ha-yeshuah. Ladonay ha-yeshuah, al amcha birchatecha selah. Adonay Tzevaot imanu, misgav lanu. Elohei Yaakov selah. Adonay Tzevaot, ashrei adam bote-ach bach. Adonay hoshiah, hamelech ya-aneinu v’yom koreinu.
Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation. Salvation is the Lord’s; on Your people is Your blessing, Selah. The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold, Selah. Lord of hosts: happy is the one who trusts in You. Lord save! May the King answer us on the day we call.
It is customary for those gathered to recite the next verse before the leader, who then repeats it.
“Layehudim hay’ta orah v’simcha v’sason vikar.” - Kein tihyeh lanu!
“For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor.” (Esther 8) - So may it be for us!
The leader now raises the cup a bit and continues:
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵאפְּרִיהַגָּֽפֶן.
Kos yeshuot essa, uv’sheim Adonay ekra.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.
I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Do not drink the wine yet. Set the cup aside for the final blessing and pick up the spices next and say the second blessing:
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵאמִינֵיבְשָׂמִים.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei minei v’samim.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the various spices.
Smell the spices and pass them around. Now extend your hands toward the candle flame with your fingers bent over the palms of your hands so that you can see the shadow of the fingers in your hand. Now say the third blessing.
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵאמְאוֹרֵיהָאֵשׁ.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei me-orei ha-eish.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the lights of the fire.
Pick up the cup once more and chant the final blessing:
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, הַמַּבְדִילבֵּיןקֹֽדֶשׁלְחוֹל, בֵּיןאוֹרלְחֹֽשֶׁךְ, בֵּיןיִשְׂרָאֵללָעַמִּים, בֵּיןיוֹםהַשְּׁבִיעִילְשֵֽׁשֶׁתיְמֵיהַמַּעֲשֶׂה. בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָ, הַמַּבְדִילבֵּיןקֹֽדֶשׁלְחוֹל.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’chol, bein or l’choshech, bein yisrael la-amim, bein yom ha-shviyi l’sheishet y’mei ha-maaseh. Baruch ata Adonay, hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who distinguishes between sacred and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six days of work. Blessed are You, Lord, who distinguishes between sacred and secular.
Drink most of the cup and then use the remainder of the wine to extinguish the candle, either pouring some on a plate or some foil or dunking the candle into the cup.
Then we sing these lines to conclude the ceremony, one song running into the next:
אֵלִיָהוּהַנָּבִיא, אֵלִיָהוּהַתִּשְׁבִּי, אֵלִיָהוּאֵלִיָהוּ, אֵלִיָהוּהַגִּלְעַדִי.
Hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol, chatoteinu hu yimchol. Zareinu v’chaspeinu yarbeh cha-chol v’cha-kochavim ba-lailah.
Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu ha-Tishbi, Eliyahu Eliyahu, Eliyahu ha-Giladi. Bimheirah v’yameinu yavo eileinu im mashiach ben David.
He who distinguishes between sacred and secular, may He forgive our sins. May He multiply our offspring and wealth like the sand and the stars of the night.
A good week!
Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah, Elijah, Elijah the Gileadite. May he come to us speedily in our day with the Messiah son of David.
Chanukah begins on the 25th of Kislev at sundown (on Saturday night, we wait until after dark when the stars are out to light the candles). We place wax candles or oil (preferably olive oil) in the Chanukiyah on the far right side as you face it. Each new candle is added to the left. An additional candle, the shamash, is placed in its own holder as a reminder not to use the Chanukah lights for any other purpose. Though we may light the candles at sundown, many people wait until the whole family can gather and light together. One may light a single Chanukiyah for the whole family or each family member may have his or her own to light to increase the joy of the holiday.
Originally, the Chanukiyah was placed in the doorway opposite the mezuzah (i.e. on the left side facing the door as you enter). It was supposed to burn until the last person left the market place on the way home. Later, due to weather conditions, the Chanukiyah was moved indoors to a window facing the street. In times of danger in our history, it was lit furtively on the dining room table with the drapes drawn. I’ve been in a Chasidic home where the menorah was lit in the doorway to the dining room to fulfill both possibilities.
We light the shamash and recite the blessings, all three the first night, and subsequent nights just the first two. After completing the blessings we light the candles from left to right, thus imitating the movements of the high priest who always turned to the right, the side of mercy, as he performed his duties. The Chanukiyah should be put in its proper place prior to lighting and not moved until the candles go out. There should be enough oil or long enough candles so that they will burn at least for a half hour past sundown. On Friday night, we light the Chanukah candles before the Shabbat candles so at least the new candle (preferably all candles) should be long enough to burn for the 18 minutes before sundown plus the 30 minutes afterwards.
בָּרוּךְאַתָּהיְיָאֱלֹהֵֽינוּמֶֽלֶךְהָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁרקִדְּשָֽׁנוּבְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּלְהַדְלִיקנֵרשֶׁלחֲנֻכָּה.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.
Praised are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, whose commandments add holiness to our lives, and commanded us to light the Chanukah lights.
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu bayamim ha-haheim, bazman hazeh.
Praised are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this season. [Some translate it as “in those days and in our time.”]
On the first night only, we add She-hecheyanu:
Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-hecheyanu v’ki’y’manu v’higi-anu lazman hazeh.
Praised are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.
While lighting the candles or just after, recite the following paragraph in Hebrew or English or chant it to the recorded melody:
הַנֵּרוֹתהַלָּלוּאֲנַֽחְנוּמַדְלִיקִיםעַלהַנִּסִּיםוְעַלהַנִּפְלָאוֹתוְעַלהַתְּשׁוּעוֹתוְעַלהַמִּלְחָמוֹת, שֶׁעָשִֽׂיתָלַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּבַּיָּמִיםהָהֵםבַּזְּמַןהַזֶּה, עַליְדֵיכֹּהֲנֶֽיךָהַקְּדוֹשִׁים. וְכָלשְׁמוֹנַתיְמֵיחֲנֻכָּההַנֵּרוֹתהַלָּלוּקֹֽדֶשׁהֵם, וְאֵיןלָֽנוּרְשׁוּתלְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁבָּהֶם, אֶלָּאלִרְאוֹתָםבִּלְבָד, כְּדֵילְהוֹדוֹתוּלְהַלֵּללְשִׁמְךָהַגָּדוֹל, עַלנִסֶּֽיךָוְעַלנִפְלְאוֹתֶֽיךָוְעַליְשׁוּעָתֶֽךָ.
Hanerot halalu anachnu madlikin al hanisim v’al ha-nifla-ot v’al ha-teshuot v’al hamilchamot, she-asita lavoteinu bayamim ha-heim bazman hazeh, al y’dei kohanecha hakedoshim. V’chol shmonat y’mei Chanukah hanerot halalu kodesh heim, v’ein lanu reshut l’hishtamesh bahem, ela lirotam bilvad, k’dei l’hodot ul’halel l’shimcha hagadol, al nisecha v’al niflotecha v’al yeshuatecha.
These candles, which we light, are for the miracles and wonders, the saving acts and victories that you performed for our ancestors in those days at this season, through your holy priests. All eight days of Chanukah these candles are holy, and we are not permitted to use them, only to look at them, in order to give thanks and praise to your great name for your miracles, your wonders, and your saving deeds.
The following hymns, Maoz Tzur, actually has six stanzas in the standard Orthodox prayerbook praising God’s saving acts against various oppressors through history: the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. I have included the opening stanza and the one that is specific to Chanukah regarding the “Greeks.”
Maoz tzur yeshuati, l’cha na-eh l’shabei-ach, tikon beit tefilati v’sham todah nizabei-ach, l’eit tachin mat-beiach mitzar ham’nabei-ach, az egmor b’shir mizmor chanukat hamizbei-ach. (Az egmor b’shir mizmor chanukat hamizbei-ach.)
Refuge, Rock of my salvation: to you it is a delight to give praise. Restore my House of prayer, so that there I may offer You thanksgiving. When you silence the loud-mouthed foe, then will I complete, with song and psalm, the altar’s dedication. (translation of Koren Siddur)
Yevanim nikb’tzu alai azai biy’mei chashmanim, u-fartzu chomot migdalai v’tim’u kol ha-shmanim, umi-notar kankanim na-asah nes lashoshanim, b’nei vinah y’mei shmonah kavu shir urnanim. (B’nei vinah y’mei shmonah kavu shir urnanim.)
Then the Greeks gathered against me, in the days of the Hasmoneans. They broke down the walls of my towers, and defiled all the oils. But from the last remaining flask a miracle was wrought for Your beloved, therefore the Sages ordained these eight days for song and praise (translation of Koren Siddur).
Some prefer the English text to the same melody:
Rock of Ages let our song praise thy saving power.
Thou amidst the raging foe, wast our shelt’ring tower.
Furious they assailed us, but Thine arm availed us.
And Thy word broke their sword when our own strength failed us. - 2x