Tonight we light the first candle on the Chanukiah. Every year, as this holiday draws near, I take the time to reflect on Chanukah celebrations from my childhood and on the idea of miracles.
Growing up in the US, Chanukah was known as the “Jewish Christmas”. It is a much bigger holiday in the diaspora than in Israel because it has competition. Growing up, I have very fond memories of family Chanukah parties; my mom and a few relatives making latkes (potato pancakes) in the kitchen, a fresh box of sufganiyot (jelly donuts) on the table, and all of the cousins circled around the coffee table playing a game of dreidle with the coveted chocolate gelt (chocolate coins).
Living in Israel, Chanukah is a much more understated holiday but no less special. Jewish holidays in Israel never cease to amaze me. All the customs I grew up with are celebrated here in a very public way. Not only does every window have a chanukiah, but each city in Israel has a giant one too! Driving through the Ra’anana intersection on route 4, the city Chanukiah stands prominent at the corner. Walking down any major street, bakeries are overflowing with an enormous variety and quantity of sufganiyot. I consider myself lucky to make it through the holiday without consuming at least 8 (one for each day). But my absolute favorite part of this holiday? My entire neighborhood has smelled like wonderful latke goodness for a whole week, and the holiday only begins tonight!
Regardless of the differences, this holiday is still about one thing; Family. I will be spending the evening with my family, lighting the first candle, saying the prayers and enjoying a fresh sufganiya.
Stay tuned for Thursdays post as we reflect on the miracles that are happening in our little country every day, and the people that make them happen. Do you know of people making miracles happen? Share them with us and we can feature them here!
For the meantime, Happy Chanukah and enjoy this time of year when you have an excuse to eat all fried foods you can! Happy Holidays!