July 25, 2024
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Walking the Streets of Jerusalem During Chanukah

Leaving the Christmas-focused lights, wreaths, trees and crowded malls of America and then walking the streets of Jerusalem is like going from artificial flavoring to natural foods.

It only takes minutes after arriving in Israel and then Jerusalem to feel that as a Jew you are home. The beautiful, yet understated chanukiot that are placed outside of the homes in glass boxes really bring a light to the night and peace to one’s soul.

Even in the Inbal Hotel, where my wife and I were staying, there was a designated area where Jews from all over the world came and kindled the candles. Again, it was emotional taking a step back and seeing people I’d never met share such a common bond.

It would be days before we saw our first holiday tree, and that was next to a window on an upper floor of a flat we saw near the Old City. That was a reminder that back in the States, the country, after going through “Black Friday” all the way until December 25, would continue the holiday “joy” on Dec. 26 with gift recipients returning many of their presents at the same mall where they lined up at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to be first in line for the latest gizmo or deal on a mural-sized flat TV.

In Israel, we felt like we were a million miles away from the commercialism and artificiality. Instead, we felt that just being there during Chanukah gave us the greatest gift of all, that being the sunny winter days and crisp starry nights of Jerusalem.

I remember that as each night we kindled candles I was both happy and then saddened, knowing that soon after the holiday we’d be flying back.

There are many beautiful times to take time off for a holiday or vacation and come to Israel.

For my family it’s Chanukah.

Lighting the lights is different there.

Maybe because wherever you walk, even on the coldest evenings, you feel their warmth.

Walking the streets of Jerusalem during a Chanukah night.

’Tis the season.

By Phil Jacobs

 

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