JERUSALEM -- This year, for the first time in 75 years, the Jewish celebration of Chanuka and secular celebration of Thanksgiving will coincide. While Stephen Colbert has “chad it up to chere with Chanuka,” for the Orthodox Jewish world, this presents a unique opportunity to celebrate a large part of the chag while off from work or school. Many will use this as an opportunity to plan a Chanuka getaway to Israel. As the Holy Land prepares for an onslaught of foreigners very much at odds with those successfully repelled in the time of the Maccabees, The Jewish Link suggests some enlightening family activities for visitors during the Thanksgivukkah/Chanukagiving invasion:
AISH HATORAH OROT B’ATIKA (LIGHTS IN THE OLD CITY) PROGRAM
The main spiritual miracle of Chanuka, the lasting of one pitcher of oil for eight nights, took place at epicenter of Judaism in the Second Temple. While we no longer have a Temple to serve as the center for Judaism, about five years ago, Aish Hatorah built their World Center less than 300 meters from that holy site. Since then, the center has truly lived up to its name, helping reignite the fire of Judaism in many Jews who visit for seminars and learning. In honor of Chanuka, Aish Hatorah will be hosting a special Chanuka event for five nights of Chanuka, thrice each day. Orot B’atika, which will be entirely in Hebrew, will present Chanuka-themed music, stories and shows in the brand-new facility, and will be followed by fresh sufganiyot (festive doughnuts) and hot drinks. The event concludes with a visit to the center’s rooftop terrace, including Aish Hatorah’s revolutionary interactive model of the Second Temple and beautiful views of the Kotel and Temple Mount. For special groups (at an additional price), Aish will also offer a Chanuka-themed tour of the Old City before the event. For those who are adventurous, or have good Hebrew, it is truly a unique opportunity to celebrate the holiday right where the miracle happened.
Where? Aish Hatorah World Center, Western Wall Plaza, Jerusalem
When? Thursday night (28 Nov), and Sunday thru Wednesday night (1-4 Dec) of Chanuka
How? To order tickets, please visit Aish Israel’s website (https://www.aishisrael.co.il/events/chanuka/-), or contact +972 73-3393539 (please note that group sales are only available over the phone, and the website order form is only available in Hebrew). The admission fee is 45 NIS per visitor.
EIN YAEL CHANUKA ACTIVITIES
A little bit further from the epicenter of the spiritual Chanuka miracle, closer, perhaps, to the site of the battle lines on the outskirts of Jerusalem, lies the historical reserve of Ein Yael. Ein Yael, dedicated to showing tourists and Israelis alike what life was like back in ancient times, will be having special Chanuka activities throughout the eight days of the festival of Lights. In a throwback to over two thousand years ago, and in the spirit of the Holiday, there will be olive harvesting, oil preparation, and cooking of other olive-based treats, along with fresh pita. And last, but definitely not least, there will be candle-making tutorials in the ceramics workshop. For the complete 50 BCE Chanuka experience, Ein Yael is the place to be.
Where? Ein Yael (near the Gilo Forest and the Biblical Zoo), Jerusalem
When? 28-29 Nov, 1-6 Dec; 10:00, 12:00
How? Visitors are requested to arrange their visit in advance by calling the office at +972 2-6451866 or emailing office_einyael.co.il. The admission fee is 25 NIS for adults and 15 NIS for children.
CHANUKA AT TACHANA RISHONA
A little bit of a later historical addition to Jerusalem, the Tachana Rishona (First Station) has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, offering dining, shopping and other opportunities in its late nineteenth century building. In honor of Chanuka, the station will be hosting a candle lighting ceremony every night at 18:00, and the services will be run by members of the local community council, with other dignitaries in attendance. Also, during the holiday and the rest of the month of December, the station will be hosting a huge flea market, called Yotzrim B’Tachana (lit. creations at the station), where Jerusalem’s many locals and visitors will be able to sell their crafts and artwork to all who pass through the Tachana. Admission for both of these events is free, and Tachana Rishona could be a great “first stop” for unique Chanuka or souvenir shopping.
Where? Tachana Rishona, David Remez St, Jerusalem
While these are but a few of the many activities that will be going on in the Holy Land during the Festival of Lights, many more will be announced and become available closer to the holiday.
The Jewish Link advises all of those who are planning on coming to Israel for Chanuka/Thanksgiving to continually check for updated information before planning a trip. We wish all of our readers, whether in Israel or abroad, a happy month of Kislev and Chag Sameach.
By Tzvi Silver