Haifa celebrates 'Holiday of Holidays' festival

In Israel's third-largest city, streets have been decorated with decorations and bright lights to proudly demonstrate a harmonious relationship between monolithic religions of the area.

By REUTERS
December 14, 2015 08:28
3 minute read.

'Holiday of Holidays'

'Holiday of Holidays'

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The Israeli city of Haifa, together with the help of the Arab Jewish Cultural Center is putting on a two week festival named the 'Holiday of Holidays' to proudly demonstrate a harmonious relationship between monolithic religions of the area.

The municipality has lined up musical concerts, a food festival, art galleries, children's plays, tours on the city and Christmas stalls all around the city.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


In Israel's third-largest city, the streets have been decorated with decorations and bright lights.

A Christmas tree was erected in the main street of Haifa along with a Menorah designed to represent the Jewish holiday of Hanukka.

The city's Arab Jewish Cultural Center, formally known as Beit Hagefen is a not-for-profit organization which aims to create opportunities and platforms for all religions and cultures in Haifa and in Israel in general.

The Executive Director of Beit Hagefen, Asaf Ron said that the idea arose in the 90's when the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, the Jewish holiday of Hanukka and the Christian holiday of Christmas coincided.

"The festival of 'Holiday of Holidays' started 22 years ago when Ramadan, Christmas and Hanukka were (came) all together in December of 1994. So, the idea is to just celebrate together what is so simple if you think about it, to do it. It is the same source, so the holidays, the religions are merges from the same source, same belief, same God, so why to do it separate? Why don't we do it together? And Haifa is a very special city. that any way, year around we live in a very good (relationship) together here and respect each other and we want to emphasize it and to show it around also as possible," Ron said.



People of Haifa were out on the streets buying Christmas gifts and decorations from stalls set up around the city.

One resident, Hanna Khoury, said the people of Haifa have always been united by a common culture.

"There is equality (between people) here (in Haifa). All the holidays of the religions are the same, Islam, Christianity, Jewish and Druze. This unites us and Haifa has been always united (with its people) and will always stay united. That's all," Khoury said.

Another resident, Nicola Abu al-Zouz, sporting a Santa Clause outfit whilst handing out gifts to children, said that Santa Clause's house is opened to everyone, regardless of denomination.

"Santa House has been here for 30 years. People from all around the country and from all sects, foreigners, Arabs and Jews, they all come to visit Santa Clause house. Santa Clause gives them sweets and small gifts," Abu al-Zouz said.

Yafa, who brought her children to visit Santa said that events like the one in Haifa give her hope for a future where she may see more peace in the world.

"It is very nice to have the same holidays together and we live in peace and we hope it will be peace in all the world. No more war," Yafa said.

Nabila al-Douha who lives in the village of al-Rama, said that the municipality of Haifa had invited them to make pastries and sweets for participants of the festival.

"We were invited by the municipality of the city of Haifa to make sweets because this is what we do for living in our village al-Rama. Before Christmas we make (sweets) and before the big holiday, the Easter, we also make (sweets). We sell the sweets and the pastries (that we make) and we give the money we get to charity," al-Douha said.

Many people visited al-Sham food festival during the festivities to sample delights and listen to musicians performing for their guests.

According to Nouf Ismael, an organizer of the food festival, catering staff wanted to blend Arab and Jewish flavors to reflect the variety of dishes available in the city.

"Taking these ancient dishes and creating them, bringing them back to life and introducing people to these dishes, to the stories behind the dishes and to the music behind the dishes. So, you achieve two goals in one project; one is recreating these dishes again and the other one is combining both Jewish and Arabic culture in one mission of bringing back to life some dishes from the Arabic culture," Ismael explained.

The majority of festival events are located in the German Colony and al-Nisnas neighborhood and will be open to visitors every Friday and Saturday until the end of December 2015.

Related Content

Likud MK Oren Hazan
August 15, 2018
Bill would keep unvaccinated kids out of school

By GIL HOFFMAN