April 18, 2024
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April 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Recently, someone from Israel was visiting Manhattan and sent me videos of the Macy’s holiday windows. Little children mannequins all spruced up in red velvety smocked dresses and fur mufflers, party-ready in slate gray wool pants and fern green cashmere sweaters. People were walking briskly and purposefully, carrying enormous bags of wares ready to be gift-wrapped and hidden. Cue amazing holiday music that stays in your head all day. And there was snow, like actual soft snow on the ground (it’s been five years since I’ve seen the stuff, people, so cut me some slack).

I was having a serious Norman Rockwell moment.

And I have to admit: I got a little holiday envy.

While I’m madly in love with this country, Israel is also strange to me in the sense that you don’t get the four seasonal changes that I have been so accustomed to having. In America, the sun starts to beat down and you know it is summer. When the air starts to crisp and the leaves begin their metamorphosis of colors and pilgrimage to the ground, fall has arrived. And so forth.

In Israel it’s completely different. We have beautifully warm and breezy, super freaking warm, don’t-bother-leaving-the-house-hot insanity, and some cool, rainy monsoon weeks.

While this was an adjustment, especially for a Canadian-blooded gal, what I began to notice was something so beautiful.

This country revolves around the Jewish holiday seasons.

When the oznei haman (hamantaschen) hit the shelves you know Purim is around the corner. Buses welcome everyone with a digital message of Shana Tova before Rosh Hashanah, and honey is a-flowin everywhere. When cars are decorated with green foliage carrying schach home and the streets are intoxicated with the citrusy smell of etrogim, you know it’s almost Sukkot. And if you have the luxury of being in Israel for Chanukah then you know about the incredibly decadent edible art that line the bakery shelves. These ain’t your grandma’s sufganiyot—with new modern twists like pistachio cream and cherry cheesecake stuffed and bedazzled with sugared jewel crystals and gold leaf.

Today, as I pulled into the Azrieli mall in Modiin to buy some sufganiyot confections for the kids (read: me), the security guard motioned for me to roll down my window. I thought to myself, OK, maybe security is a bit tighter than usual. Instead I was greeted with an enormous toothy smile. “Chag sameach,” he beamed. “You know, Chanukah is the holiday of miracles,” the security guard continued.

“May Hashem continue to bless all of Am Yisrael with great miracles, and may our eyes be open to see these miracles unfold in our own lives.”

True, there is something so enticing and alluring to the whole holiday scene and I’ve always yearned to be a part of it. Eggnog and all.

But here’s the real truth. I’ve always been an outsider looking in. It’s never really been mine to experience fully.

So yes, while it’s true I don’t experience the holiday seasons like I had imagined in my mind, I do now experience our holiday seasons year round.

And my eyes are wide open.

By Esti Rosen Snukal

 Esti Rosen Snukal made aliya five years ago with her husband and four sons from Teaneck, New Jersey. She is currently the adopted mom to a lone soldier from Highland Park and is an active volunteer at the lone soldier center in Jerusalem. Esti can be reached at [email protected].


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