One of my favorite experiences is to walk through one of the more orthodox neighborhoods in the evening and see the menorah with candles burning in each window and hear the singing from home to home.
Some of my Israeli friends choose to celebrate an important life theme they want to illuminate with the burning of each new candle, whether that evening’s theme is love or wisdom. Each Hanukkah candle holds an intention – a light of awareness – around that theme and then, on the final night when all 8 candles are lit, they stand as one powerful flame that represents all that is good in life.
Most popular foods of this holiday are cooked in oil, reflecting the miracle of one night’s oil lasting 8 nights. Latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts w/ fattening fillings) are the delectable treats of the season. For those who want to work off some pounds, they can follow the Olympic-like torch run from the ancient village where the Maccabean revolt began, Modiin, to Jerusalem that finishes twenty miles away at the Western Wall.
Some of the other worthy experiences include visiting the archeological site of Bet Guvrin, big production kids’ shows like Festigal and the Children’s Song Festival, or visiting Haifa, north of Tel Aviv, for Hag Ha Hagim, a series of cultural events and street fairs every Saturday in December. Finally, the EatWith celebration in which local chefs invite you into their homes to feast on a special dinner and experiencing Hanukkah the Israeli way.