Gearing up for Chanukah

I remember feeling overwhelmed (in a suffocating sense) by the over-commercialization of the December holidays in America (that seemed to begin earlier every year) to the point that I would stock the pantry and freezer, and be sure to buy all the wintery things we might need before January no later than the end of October. Sure, I’d venture out to pick up perishables from time to time, but usually alone so as to shield my son from the in-your-face/ears advertising assaults. So for those of you who are still in the United States (of Islam – sorry, I couldn’t resist!), here’s a taste of how Israelis gear up for the holidays…

Photos by Jacob Richman (because I keep forgetting to bring my camera when I shop)

About 3 weeks ago, grocery stores, bakeries, street stands, etc. began selling sufganiyot, dreidels, chanukiahs, oil and wicks, candles, etc. and some have been playing Chanukah music. However, it is all very casual – no in-your-face advertising like in America, it’s just a matter-of-fact merging into the next season of joy (at least here in Ra’anana and in my recollection of Ma’ale Adumim last year – it may be different elsewhere).

Schools and ulpanim are teaching/practicing Chanukah songs and in addition to the miraculous story, Chanukah is incorporated into the standard curriculum (e.g., “Moshe has a bag of 70 dreidels, after he distributes 63 to children from disadvantaged families, how many will he have left?”). Yesterday I received a call informing me that my son would not be getting out of school at 12:45 today (his regular Thursday schedule) because the children are going to a nursing home to sing Chanukah songs for the residents (and they will be doing a similar chesed next Thursday).

I’ll grant you that some Jewish schools in America are most likely doing similar activities at this time of year, but are they taking your children on a field trip to trace the footsteps of the Maccabees? (I didn’t think so.)

And are your employers giving you Chanukah gifts? Michael’s employer is treating all its employees (not just those in the corporate office) to a special Chanukah event at the Israel Museum.

And our dietician proactively suggested that she prepare a special plan to help us get through the upcoming holiday of fried foods!

And on the political playground, people seem to be filled with the spirit of Judah Maccabee at this time of year (Go Efrat!).

And then there was this innovative and fun group over at Nefesh B’Nefesh who spent a few hours preparing for – and providing – a memorable experience for people visiting the Ben Yehuda Promenade…

The Making of the NBN Jerusalem Flash Mob

View on YouTube

Nefesh B’Nefesh Hanukkah Flash Mob (Official NBN Release)

View on YouTube

There are so many advantages of living in Israel, and especially being here during the holidays. There is a richness of experience that you just can’t find anywhere else in the world. I sure wish you’d come now.

Chanukah Sameach!


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