Hanukkah activities with the kids

A list of recommendations for spending time with the family for the holiday

LIGHT CANDLES according to ancient tradition (photo credit: ELDAD MAESTRO)
LIGHT CANDLES according to ancient tradition
(photo credit: ELDAD MAESTRO)
With eight days to fill with exciting light-filled activities, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Although to parents it may seem like their kids just started the school year and are still getting used to their daily schedules, the kids are ready to eat tasty fried latkes and sufganiyot and experience a long string of fun outings. Of course, there are plenty of outdoor festivals that you can combine with nature hikes all over the country. Since we’ve already been blessed with a bit of rain this winter, many of Israel’s streams are full of rushing water. Below, I’ve brought you a little taste of the many Hanukkah activities taking place this year across the country.
Zedekiah’s Cave (aka King Solomon’s Quarries) will turn into an escape room during the eight days of Hanukkah. You’ll be invited to take part in an adventure that combines solving riddles and deciphering ancient texts. And at the end you can even take a photo of the whole family home with you.
The adventure will bring you back in time over 2,000 years ago to a time when a legendary winged creature lived in a rock quarry. The riddles will quickly take you back in time, and down low into the Earth. Each time you solve a riddle, you move back in time. You’ll use clues left by famous scientists, gaze upon a live sculpture, create an authentic pendant, and discover “ancient” coins left by the Freemasons (each discovery comes with a prize).
Location: Zedekiah’s Cave, Jerusalem.
Dates: December 24-26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Price: NIS 30. Tickets can be purchased at door or online at pami.co.il
Gan HaShlosha National Park (aka Sakhne) is home to a number of natural pools, an archaeological museum called Footprints in the Valley, and the tower and stockade site. Visitors will learn what it was like for the Jews to build new communities in the early days of the state. On December 28, 29 and 30, at noon and 2 p.m., there will be musical and theatrical performances, followed by acrobatics and a tour of the site.
Dates: December 24-30, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Guided tours at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Price: Children: NIS 24, Adults: NIS 39.
Pre-registration required: (04) 658-1017.
This Hanukkah, the Modi’in region will be organizing a plethora of fun activities for the whole family. At Moshav Bareket, there will be a special Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony according to ancient Habbani Yemenite Jewish tradition. In Moshav Mevo Modi’im, which burned down this past Lag Ba’omer, there will be a special Carlebach-style candle-lighting ceremony led by the Solomon Brothers. A third candle-lighting will take place in Gimzu, where a gigantic Hanukkiah (menorah) will be lit at the top of the hill, following a guided tour organized by Bishvilod.
If you’re looking to get out into nature, I recommend taking part in the various guided tours and navigation activities taking place in the Ben Shemen Forest. There will be ziplines, a climbing wall and a rope course. The Asphalt Theater will be performing and kids can also pick and then crush olives, write with quill pens and feed the animals at the Aladdin Farm. At Kfar Hashmonai in Shilat, kids can make candles and coins out of clay.
Archaeology buffs are invited to take part in an engaging dig at Tel Hadid and tour the remains of a Hasmonean Fortress that was recently discovered on the site.
Location: Modi’in region.
Dates: December 24-30.
Details: thm.org.il
Escape rooms no longer need to be built inside a room with four walls. Nowadays, you can experience the thrill of solving a mystery out in the open air. As part of Israel’s 2019 National Heritage week, escape Rooms will take participants on a journey through time, during which they will need to solve riddles, gather clues, and navigate according to maps in an effort to locate the pirates. Activities will take place in 12 different heritage sites around the country.
Dates: December 24-30.
Price: No additional charge above entry fee.
Details: moreshet2019.co.il
Now that the hot summer days are long past us, Hanukkah is the perfect time to return to the Arava and enjoy an authentic desert experience. At Timna Park, you can become an archaeologist for the day as you dig, sift and perhaps even discover a hidden treasure left behind by King Solomon. And if you’re looking for something a little different, you can join the lantern sunset tour at Timna, which begins at the entrance and passes by the huge mushroom-shaped rock and Solomon’s Pillars. At the lake, you can fill up a bottle with colored sand and then enjoy a festive candle-lighting ceremony.
Dates: Digs on December 24-26.
Sunset tours on December 24, 25, 26 and 29.
Activities from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Price: Adults NIS 49; Children NIS 39. Under 3 free.
Registration: (08) 631-6756
Located just 20 minutes from Timna, Eco Kef at Kibbutz Lotan is inviting visitors to join an ecological tour where there will be lots of Hanukkah fun for the whole family. Kids can make “seed balls” which will grow into sprouts, sculpt using clay taken out of the ground, form bricks, build a bow and arrow and create things out of recycled materials.
Dates: All eight days of Hanukkah (except for Shabbat), from 9:30 a.m.
Price: Adults NIS 35, Children NIS 20.
Registration: 054-979-9030
Join a unique wet winter hike at Nahal Ayun, a perennial stream that flows through a magical canyon in the Galilee. The tour, which is led by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, will take you past waterfalls and green surroundings that have really come to life following the recent rains. In case of rain, verify with the Nahal Ayun Nature Reserve to learn whether or not the tour will take place: (04) 695-1519.
Meeting Point: Upper parking area in Metula. There will be shuttles (fee NIS 10) for those who want a ride back to the parking area at the end of the tour.
Dates: December 21 & 28, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Price: No additional charge above entrance fee.
The Hai Bar Carmel National Park will be offering tours every Shabbat during December, in which visitors will get to see fallow deer that have changed their appearance for the winter, uncover the secrets of wild animals that live in the region, admire the gorgeous views from the tall Carmel mountains, and learn about how wildlife is restored to natural surroundings.
Dates: Tours will take place every Shabbat during December, 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
Price: No additional charge above entrance fee.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.