There are opinions that hold that one needs a menorah, some sort of kli (vessel) to light Chanukah lights with; but even according to the contrary opinions, it's certainly easier to light when one has a menorah.

Let's say I forgot my menorah somewhere, and all the Jewish stores in the neighborhood are closed. What can I do to create a makeshift menorah?

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    You assume special Chanukkah oil-glasses or candles are available. What if you don't have candles, fire-resistant cups, wicks, etc.? I once tried putting wicks into latkes and potato-kugel...
    – Adám
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 17:22
  • @NBZ Say you're in yeshiva...you can usually "borrow" or buy all that stuff from a friend, but most people (who remember to bring menorahs) only bring one menorah.
    – MTL
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 17:24
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    @TonyEnnis But he was using the beer bottles to hold candles that were lit with a real flame. What makes you think that beer bottles are so radically different from a traditional menorah, that this suggests to you that a real flame isn't necessary?
    – MTL
    Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 23:31
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    @TonyEnnis Indeed neither is respectful. But the former actually has candles and the latter doesn't. So one fulfills the Mitzva in a less than ideal way, and one is just a waste of time.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 0:08

3 Answers 3

  1. Create oil-cups by carefully pushing aluminum foil squares into the hand. Support them with rings of aluminum foil, so they don't tip over.

  2. Strips of pure cotton clothing are excellent wicks. Hiddur: make wicks of make-up cotton pads.

  3. Straighten out paperclips and make a loop in the middle, place them across the cups as wick-holders.

  4. Most vegetable oils can be used for lighting. Even shortening from the baking aisle.*

  5. Roll a piece of paper into a long stick. Throw a piece of paper on a hot stove, and hold the "match" into the flames.

  6. Remember to turn off the stove before proceeding to light the Menorah.

* Melt it in a pot, and pour it into the cups while holding the wicks in place with the paperclip.

  • ...sounds like a lot of labor ....buying an 8 pack of nippers and doing it the YeZ way sounds less painful, or at least safer than juggling a burning roll of paper....
    – Gary
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 22:56

When I was in Yeshiva, I saw someone use empty beer bottles, in which your standard order white Shabbos candles just so happen to be an exact fit. Sorry, I didn't take a picture.

If you don't have 8 empty beer bottles on hand, I'm sure you could find someone willing to procure some for you.


I've never had to do this, myself, but here are some things I've seen my friends do.

You can use Styrofoam cups, a favorite of my friends':

Overturned sytofoam cups with the bottoms of glass oil-cups poked into them

Another option would be to use a Styrofoam plate, like this:

An overturned sytofoam plate with the bottoms of glass oil-cups poked into it

This year, I saw someone use those metal Shabbos candle holders, lined up next to each other, like this:

Circular foil inserts for Shabbos candlesticks, bent so that they will rest on the table, lined up

I've also seen some more exotic things, like donuts (aka sufganiyot), or a banana:

A jelly donut with glass oil-cups sunk into it

A banana with the bottoms of glass oil-cups poked into it

( Note: I don't know if the above two were ever used, but there's no reason why they shouldn't work, IMO. )

I've also seen (sorry, no pics for these!) soda cans used, in one of a few ways: either fill an empty can with mostly water, and about half an inch of oil on top, and plop a floating wick in there; put a glass oil cup in the open top of a can; or turn a can upside down, and fill that bottom cavity of the can with oil, and put a floating wick in there.

This isn't so hacky, but a lot of people forget that a lot of those cases of pre-filled oil cups come with either a small, plastic menorah (seen in the Styrofoam cup picture, and the doughnut picture), or those rubber oil cup holders, which can be used to fill in for a more permanent menorah. ( mine actually didn't, this year )

All of the above probably suffer from some form of issue with hiddur, though that may or may not be a problem ;-)

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    The banana is only ok for one night. After that, it will fail as mius.
    – Adám
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 17:19

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