Hanukka is definitely one of the more fun events in our national religious-tradition calendar. As the days get ever shorter and, hopefully, the weather is wintry, basking in the glow of the festive candles and tucking into doughnuts and other not particularly nutritious, but delicious, fried vittles tends to generate a sense of seasonal coziness.
Marking yet another miracle means that school is out and parents have to make all kinds of contingency plans to keep their offspring happy and suitably entertained. Hanukka is, thus, one of the times of the year when the local entertainment industry and culture sector, crank up a gear or two and unfurl a wide choice of shows, hands on activities and enlightening profferings.
Holon has long been the country’s unofficial kiddies capital, and it is no surprise to see all kinds of junior amusement and edification lined up for the coming week or so. The Israel Children’s Museum is a natural place to begin looking for quality engagement and parents could do far worse than head for the At Eye Level section that is laying on a new interactive exhibition for kids of various ages called “Stories from the Street.” The theme of the show is street art, and young patrons will be able to get a better handle on the art disciplines to be found in the public domain, from the plastic arts to theater, and multimedia to movement. The exhibition comprises two age group routes, for three- to five-year-olds and five- to nine-year-olds. For more information: (03) 650-3000 and www.childrensmuseum.org.il.
The Mediatheque is also a good place to take your young ones if you happen to be in the vicinity of Tel Aviv-Holon, and has an abundance of quality theatrical entertainment on offer between December 8 and 14. The weighty roster includes a production Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, for all the family, the music- based Wood for the Trees based on the story of Goldilocks, for kids age six and over, and Heidi for the same age group. And kids and their parents who prefer their entertainment more on the high- energy side could do worse than opt for the Tararam Stagadish drumming, dance and movement show. Family tickets are available. For more information: (03) 502- 1552 and www.mediatheque.org.il.
And if you’re into virtual artistic endeavor, there is plenty of quality activity to be found at the FabLabIL facility over at the Jessy Cohen end of Holon, with the Instant Production digital hanukkia design workshop on December 8. Advance registration is required, by calling (03) 502-1552 or emailing info@ fablabil.org.
Meanwhile, over in the capital where, after all, the miracle of Hanukka actually took place, there is plenty of fun, games and items of a more educational nature to be had at the Israel Museum. The centerpiece of the museum’s holiday program is the Feast of Party show for the whole family, by the Pyromania Group. The production takes in dance, illuminated balloons, surreal pictures, magic candles, clowns, jugglers and ballerinas in a performance full of magic and illusion. You may also want to get somewhat down and dirty at the recycling workshop where you can “bake a cake that is also a Hanukka lamp.” For more information: (02) 670-8811 and http://www.imj.org.il.
Elsewhere in Jerusalem, there is The Lights in the Old City tour – December 8-10 – which offers an unusual view of the Jewish Quarter and suitably themed musical entertainment (*4987 and www.
rova-yehudi.org.il), while Avi Chai House will run the Hanukka Shraga activity for age four to nine, on December 8-10 (10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily). The event lasts around 90 minutes, and will take the children on a tour of Jerusalem in the 1950s, taking in theater and interactive acting. For more information: www.bac.org.il.
The Science Museum in Jerusalem will also get in on the light act, with a bunch of junior-oriented activities and exhibitions. During the course of Hanukka children of all ages, and their parents, can marvel at the “Make Light” exhibition that takes in some state of the art electrical devices, and there is a pretty cool laser-operated harp to see and hear. The museum is also offering all kinds of hands-on workshops where kids and grownups can make dreidels from mirrors and paper clips, and a light kaleidoscope. For more information: (02) 654-4888 and www.mada.org.il. And let’s not forget the annual Jewish Film Festival over at the Jerusalem Cinematheque with its jam-packed program of movies, workshops and talks. Tickets and information: *9337 and www.jer-cin.org.il
If you happen to be up North during the school vacation, the Haifa Theater is laying on a full 10 shows for kids age three to 12 as part of its Sufgatron program. Tickets and information: (04) 860-0500 and www.ht1.co.il. And just down the road, the Ein Hod Artists’ Village, there is the four-day Chagigada on Hanukka (December 10-13) that takes in children’s shows, dance, pantomime, acrobatics and workshops. For more information: (04) 984-2350 and www.jancodada.co.il.
And, if you head over to the northeastern part of the country, you will be able to avail yourself of a veritable ton of activities, shows and edibles during the course of this year’s Banana Festival (December 3-12). The hefty lineup includes all manner of cuisine and at a host of eateries across the region, pop singer Shiri Maimon’s show at Afikim, horseback riding at Vered Hagalil, art workshops, street theater, cycling tours and a farmers’ market with local produce. For more information: (04) 675-2727 and www.kinneret.info.
The Negev also has plenty of outdoor and indoor activities and entertainment lined up, including themed tours at Alumim, hanukkia- building at Mitzpe Gvulot (054- 791-9000), a trip along the Spice Route, and a circuit or two of the Miriam Maze at Nir Moshe. You can also get up close to a large feathered species at El Hayaen ostrich farm, while kids can get into the Maccabean spirit at Yad Mordechai. For more information about activities in the Negev: http://www.gonegev.co.il. There is also plenty of Hanukka cheer to be had down in Eilat, with tours, shows and outdoor activities, including a performance of The Emperor’s New Clothes by the Orna Porat Children’s Theater, while the Eilat Bird Center will offer free admission during the vacation. For more information: www.redseaeilat.co.il.
And last, but certainly not least, there are the myriad activities and shows spread across the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, from the free Heritage Week program at the old City Hall, a slew of festival spots at the adjacent Bialik Compound, guided tours in Bnei Barak, workshops and shows at Sarona, fun handson stuff at Beit Ariela, umpteen kiddies movies and activities at the Cinematheque, and quality theatrical fare at Habima and Jaffa Theater, to cite but a few.