By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
Although the mitzva of lighting the Chanuka menora can only be discharged in one’s home, there is a universal custom to light a menora in the synagogue along with the accompanying blessings, as well. The primary reason that the sages instituted a synagogue lighting was in order to increase the pirsumei nisa aspect of the mitzva, the mitzva of publicizing the miracles of Chanuka. According to some authorities, the blessing is only recited in the synagogue if a minyan is present at the time of the lighting while others allow doing so even without a minyan as long as a minyan is expected to arrive shortly. It is also explained that the synagogue lighting serves to discharge the mitzva on behalf of those, who for whatever reason, are unable to light a menora themselves. It is considered ideal for the menora in the synagogue to remain burning until midnight and if possible, throughout the night and into the next morning. The synagogue menora should also be lit at the start of the shacharit prayers but a blessing is not recited at this time.
According to most customs, the menora is placed along the southern wall of the synagogue with the candles positioned from east to west as it was arranged in the Beit Hamikdash. The one who lights the menora should stand in front of it with his back facing northwards. The leftmost candle is lit first. The regular order of blessings is recited when lighting the menora in the synagogue, just as it is done at home. This includes the recitation of “shehecheyanu” on the first night of Chanuka. The one who lit the menora in the synagogue is required to light the menora again at home along with the accompanying blessings as no one fulfills the mitzva with the synagogue lighting. The kotel is considered to be a synagogue for this purpose and a public menora lighting is held there every night of Chanuka.
On weekdays, the menora is lit in the synagogue between mincha and ma’ariv. At the conclusion of Shabbat the menora is lit before havdalla though many have the custom to reverse the order when lighting at home. Although the menora is required to burn for at least thirty minutes into the night it is permitted to extinguish the synagogue menora even before this time if everyone has gone home. A child should not be given the honor of lighting the menora in the synagogue. In some communities the “Bameh Madlikin” which is normally recited every Friday night is omitted on Shabbat-Chanuka.
 Beit Yosef, OC 671; Meiri, Shabbat 23a.  Mishna Berura 671:47; Rivevot Ephraim 7:191:10  Beit Yosef, OC 671; Orchot Chaim Chanuka 17; Kol Bo 44.  Magen Avraham 670:2.  Melamed L’hoil 1:121; Shaarei Halacha Uminhag 2:280.  Pri Megadim 670:1.  OC 671:7. Other sources seem to indicate that the menora was positioned from north to south. See Rambam, Hilchot Beit Habechira 2:12.  Mishna Berura 676:11.  OC 671:7.  Rema, OC 671:7.  Teshuvot V’hanhagot 1:391; Rivevot Ephraim 4:163:63.  Rema, OC 671:7.  OC 681:2.  Rivevot Ephraim 5:29.  Rivevot Ephraim 8:273:2.  Minhagei Eretz Yisrael (Gallis) 34:2.