This holiday has long been called the “Festival of Lights.” But, Tel Aviv is a modern, secular city so it was hard to find much in the way of Hanukkah celebrations.
Jerusalem was a different story with menorahs in so many windows and families migrating to the holy sites in the Jerusalem area that help define this tradition.
Yet, even in the Old City – the place where I most expected to see more festive spectacle associated with this eight-day period – the crowds were more focused on shopping than they were on the lighting of the third candle at the Western Wall. This was to my benefit as I was able to stand in the front row as these two rabbis and a statesman lit the candle amidst proclamations of Israel being the land of miracles.
As I’ve preached for years, “Disappointment is the natural result of badly managed expectations.” In the end, I can recommend Israel, and especially Jerusalem, as a place to experience one of the most reverential times of the year of the Jewish faith, especially if you have Israeli friends with whom you can share a Hanukkah dinner and candle-lighting. But, if you’re looking for a pilgrimage, party, or pageant full of revelry or beauty, find another festival.