Israeli entertainment to light up your Hanukkah

After all the pandemic-related darkness and gloom we could all do with a little light in our lives.

 THE ORNA PORAT Children’s Theater production of  ‘Utz Li Gutz Li’ (Rumpelstiltskin) (photo credit: KFIR BOLOTIN)
THE ORNA PORAT Children’s Theater production of ‘Utz Li Gutz Li’ (Rumpelstiltskin)
(photo credit: KFIR BOLOTIN)

After all the pandemic-related darkness and gloom we could all do with a little light in our lives. Which makes the advent of Hanukkah, this year, all the more joyful and welcome.

And, as per “normal” year, there are innumerable events laid on around the country, with plenty of all-the-family fun, games and entertainment to be had.

If you’re looking to keep the kids well entertained, the Mediatheque Theater over in Holon isn’t a bad place to start. The center’s rollout over the vacation period includes a delightful production of Ran Cohen Aharonov’s Treehouse Kids, for children aged 8 and over. The storyline, enhanced by a soundtrack courtesy of the author’s cousin Yaya Cohen Aharonov, is also designed to convey an educational ecological message to the youngsters. The show is scheduled for Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

The typically robust Mediatheque program also features a wacky take on Don Quixote, adapted by Eitan Moshovski, on November 30 (10 a.m.), and there’s a riotous production of the ever-popular Doctor Dolitte on December 1 (10:30 a.m.), for the over 4 crowd.

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AS USUAL over the festive period there is a plethora of big budget entertainment offerings laid on for junior consumers – often accompanied by their siblings, parents and grandparents. The King of the Jungle and the Forest Fighters musical play, loosely based on the fabled Rudyard Kipling Jungle Book tale, gets a nationwide rollout with umpteen shows scheduled between November 28 and December 14 at points across the nation. The series starts out at the Jerusalem Theater (November 28, 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.), before it moves to Holon and Beersheba, with numerous shows lined up at Hechal Hatarbut between December 2-4. Other places where you can catch Guy Zu-Aretz, Adi Himelbloy and the rest of the stellar cast doing their fun thing include Herzliya, Petah Tikva, Ashdod and Kiryat Motzkin.

For tickets and more information:, and

 ‘THE KING of the Jungle’ at the Jerusalem Theater and points around the country. (credit: Courtesy) ‘THE KING of the Jungle’ at the Jerusalem Theater and points around the country. (credit: Courtesy)

AS MOST parents know full well, there is nothing like some fast-moving, dynamic onstage fare to grip their young offspring and, possibly, energize the older generation too. The Jaffa-based Mayumana dance, movement and acting troupe has been pumping out the calories, beats and decibels for 25 years now, across the country and around the world.

The Hanukkah period sees the company launch its latest family-oriented creation, Masanama, with 13 performances taking place around the country between November 27 and December 14. The subtitle of the 75 minute show, for children aged 3 and over, “the Evolution of Rhythm” infers the youngsters are in for one rip-roaring, hip-shaking time as the performers tell the fable of the eponymous character who, it is said, discovered rhythm.

The spectacular calisthenics come with plenty of comedic inserts designed to keep the audience’s funny bones well primed while they jive around and get a taste of some jungle fever.

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AND IF you happen to live up north, or find your way over there, you might want to mosey on over to Haifa Theater where the annual Sufgatron entertainment series is about to take place for the eighth year running. The theater’s Hanukkah program takes in no less than seven productions for children aged between 5 and 12. The younger crowd agenda includes musically-enhanced renditions of such time-honored classics as an Orna Porat Children’s Theater adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, as well as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aladdin, and Utz Li Gutz Li (Rumpelstiltskin) and there is an intriguing take on thespian endeavor, for 5-10 year olds, in Zviya Huberman’s Behind the Wonders.

For tickets and more information: (04) 860-0500 and

THERE ARE few entertainment industry forces that can be relied on to produce the quality goods like the Orna Porat Children’s Theater. The company was founded by Porat, the late Israel Prize laureate, back in 1970, and since then has been offering polished theatrical output to the younger crowd across the year.

The Hanukkah program begins on November 30 and runs through December 4, with the 14-performance itinerary taking in a premiere of a new reading of Peter Pan, in collaboration with the Cameri Theater, Beauty and the Beast together with the Fresco dance troupe, and Itamar and the Magic Hat.

For tickets and more information: (03) 511-1444 ext. 9, and

MEANWHILE, OVER in Jerusalem, the National Library of Israel will utilize its vast informational resources to provide children in the 6-10 age group with some thrills and spills, enlightening them about the wonders, magic, tales and mythological characters of bygone worlds in the process.

The Monsters and Wondrous Creatures at the National Library activity makes the most of the institution’s cornucopia of archival material, including manuscripts, maps and illustrations, to open up a fantasy world of such magical beings as Pegasus the winged horse, a scary green monster, unicorns and fire-spitting dragons.

The 90-minute activity will take place twice a day, at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., between November 30 and December 6. 

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THE CAPITAL’S historic YMCA complex will lay on some extra-denominational fare with its annual Christmas Market, December 2-4. The Yuletide fun kicks off daily at 11 a.m., with a spread of heated tents stocked with enticing solid and liquid vittles. Visitors can shake off that wintry chill by imbibing a selection of Christmas cocktails, as well as warm and cold wine, while sinking their teeth into roasted chestnuts, cheeses and candies, Christmas cake and chocolate, to mention but a few of the tidbits on the YMCA menu.

The gastronomic delights will be complemented by the seasonally tailored aesthetic backdrop with Christmas trees, Santa Claus costume-clad characters and the chiming bells of the YMCA tower all adding to the good cheer factor.

For more information: (02) 569-2692

THERE WILL be plenty in the way of light, merriment and quality musical and theatrical entertainment on offer at Jerusalem’s First Station complex. The Melodies and Miracles festival has a varied program of shows, courtesy of the Aspaklaria Theater company, from November 28 through to December 6.

There will be at least one theatrical or musical performance daily, with the varied repertoire taking in morning shows for the whole family to evening concerts of Jewish music from across a broad spectrum of genres and ethnic seasoning.

The former includes a couple of performances of The Prince and the Circus, The Miser and the Beggar and a musical called Yossele and the Nightingale, all starting at noon.

The older folks’ musical agenda, crafted by the Spectacular World of Jewish Music (SWJM) nonprofit, features a broad and rich spectrum of Israeli culture, from Ashkenazi to Sephardi, and from hassidic to Ladino music. Iranian-born liturgical and traditional singer Maureen Nehedar opens the evening proceedings, with her I Will Find A Homeland project, and there is a salute to late Jewish Canadian troubadour Leonard Cohen, and Ladino songs with Yael Zvi and the Israeli Ladino Orchestra and the Piyyut Ensemble, in the Wild and Sacred show. The festival closes with stories of the Besht (Baal Shem Tov), in Lolke for adults and youth.

For tickets and more information: (02) 651-1936 and

JUST BECAUSE the rains have finally made an impressive appearance, and temperatures have dropped appreciably, doesn’t mean we can’t get out and about in the winter sun, to enjoy some of Mother Nature unfurling some of her gems which withered and laid dormant through the seemingly endless summer.

That thinking is on the menu of the Festipark event which will take place at Ariel Sharon Park, in collaboration with the Green Bear Club, on the former Hiriya garbage dump just to the southeast of Tel Aviv. The program, scheduled for November 26-27 and December 3-4, includes ecologically-themed guided tours and arts workshops, as well as a visit to a mobile state-of-the-art planetarium.

The Festipark organizers have also lined up a varied entertainment schedule with the likes of musician-actors Yarden Bar-Kochba and Idan Alterman joining forces for their Stick Cloud show, while the Sixties cover group, The Magical Band, shares the stage with Daniel Salomon and Dana Adini in a tribute to children’s song festivals of bygone times.

To registration for the tours and workshops:

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WITH THE weather so much more comfortable now, especially down south, a trip to Yeruham, Arad or Mitzpe Ramon – or all three - may appeal. It is there where, between December 5-7, you will be able to sit back and relax and get into some of the finest documentary film material this country has to offer at the Docaviv Negev Festival. There’s also an American-UK coproduction, and a work from Morocco focusing on Israeli singer Neta Elkayam, and husband and creative sparring partner Amit Hai Cohen, on a roots odyssey through the country of their forebears.

Besides the silver screen fare the Docaviv Negev program features sessions with some of the filmmakers, and a master class for youth.

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THERE IS plenty more in the way of family-oriented activities and aesthetics lined up at the ANU – Museum of the Jewish People on the campus of Tel Aviv University, in Ramat Aviv. The self-styled “largest Jewish museum in the world” has organized a series of Hanukkah-pertinent guided tours as part of the About the Hanukkiah and Heroism program.

The circuit around the museum will take on an impressive array of hanukkiot (menorahs) from across the world, some dating back centuries, as well as contemporary works created by Jewish artists. Tour participants will also be regaled with the stories behind the hanukkiot, and will learn about the women and men – scientists, philosophers, artists, rabbis and revolutionaries – who all challenged the system and changed the world.

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BEERSHEBA ALSO has a festive thing or two to offer in the next week or two, with a jam-packed program of family-tailored activities laid on all around town. The Lunada Children’s Museum has all kinds of child-friendly challenging assignments and riddles spread around the building, as well as workshops and a candle lighting ceremony. 

For more information –

LOCALS LOOKING to get a better handle on their environs (or out-of-towners) can join in a guided tour of the city’s Shchunat Heh (District E) on November 29 (4:30 p.m.), where they will meet artists and get to know something about the alleyways and buildings that make up the veteran neighborhood. For more information – (

The Fringe Theater is putting on a wordless performance of Peter and the Wolf, on December 1 (5:30 p.m.) based on a multidisciplinary mix of acting, dance and puppetry, and there is a treasure hunt around the Beersheba Market on December 3 (10 a.m.). For more information – (

And, while we’re on the subject of markets, there are evening tours of Jerusalem’s very own Shuk, Mahaneh Yehuda, and the nearby Nachlaot neighborhood, starting at 5 p.m. Participants will be able to see hanukkiot illuminating the alleyways of Nachlaot, and hear stories of local folklore, and also get a bite or two over at the shuk.

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