This month I would like to tell you a little bit about Chanukah in Israel. The atmosphere is set pretty early (like Christmas is here in the United States). You see soofganiyot, the Chanukah donuts, round pastries (that indicates how you are going to look if you keep eating them) filled with jelly and covered with sugar, every place you go. The temptation is huge, and it is definitely worth it. Of course, in the past few years the soofganiyot have been upgraded and there are all sorts of fillings and toppings.
You can see all the symbols in stores, in commercials, and on packages. You name it. You will see the candles, hanukiya (it is not a menorah- a menorah has 7 branches including the shamash and a hanukiah has 9 including the shamash), the gold coins, the dreidel (sevivon), and cans of oil.
Usually sales use the magic number 8 for the 8 days of the holiday, the 8 days of the miracle during which the oil burned.
You receive invitations to light candles at night at your friends’ houses, and, of course, food is always involved-soofganiyot and levivot (sort of pancakes). Everyone sings songs around the candles and a fun atmosphere is everywhere.
As a kid I really enjoyed Chanukah, not just because of the presents I got and the great sweet food, but because the entire family would go to my grandma’s house and have dinner and light the candles and sing together. And, of course, we had great fun mixing the words of the songs and laughing about it. And every year we would make up new, funny words to the songs.
Chanukah is also the holiday of kids’ shows. The greatest of all would be the “FESTIGAL” which is a musical that changes its theme every year. Always the coolest kids perform it. When I was about 10 years old my aunt who had no kids at the time took all of the little kids in the family to see this show, and I had such a great time! And now that she has kids of her own, all the cousins that she took as kids have promised to pay her back and go with her kids to see the festigal. Hopefully next year at this time I can make it happen.
Until then I would like to wish ya’ll “Chanukah sameach” – Happy Chanukah.
I am so grateful that the Mobile Area Jewish Federation brought me here to Mobile!