Fun for your Festival of Lights

A few choice tourist attractions that I recommend this Hanukkah season.

FROLIC IN Ramat Hanadiv’s flowering gardens (photo credit: TAL GLICK)
FROLIC IN Ramat Hanadiv’s flowering gardens
(photo credit: TAL GLICK)
On Sunday night we usher in Hanukkah, when families and children will celebrate the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days. In order to keep their children occupied during this long holiday, parents will search for fun and interesting activities around the country. If you’re tired of the standard children’s theater productions that are full of screaming toddlers, I recommend instead getting out into nature.
The weather is fabulous and you can enjoy hiking on trails that for much of the year are too hot to traverse. In addition, since we were blessed with a relatively wet November, all the hills and valleys are full of green grass and multicolored flowers. Many seasonal streams are already flowing with water from the recent rainfall and many tourist sites will be open during the Hanukkah holiday to welcome children and their families.
Here a few choice tourist attractions that I recommend this Hanukkah season.
The public is invited to take part in a tour of the beautiful flowering gardens of Ramat Hanadiv, a special site that is a living memorial to Baron Edmond de Rothschild. The tour, which offers gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea, will include riddles about the jug of olive oil and will pass by the Byzantine Villa and the ancient wine press.
Dates: December 3 and 5 at 10 a.m.
Price: NIS 35
Info: Details can be found on the Ramat Hanadiv website or (04) 629-8111.
The town of Yeroham will celebrate the Festival of Lights with two days of workshops, activities and tours in the form of “Experience All You Can.” In other words, the purchase of an entry ticket enables you to partake in all of the activities, which include drawing, tiling and basket weaving workshops, picture design, beer making, a Moroccan cuisine class and bike tours.
Vitamin C will be organizing a bike tour at the Yeroham Lake Park. Spread over 400 hectares, the park is partly desert with lush greenery around the water. Guests are welcome to rent bicycles and ride all around the Vitamin C compound and all the way to the Yeroham Lake. In addition, tour guide Avi Ben-Zaken will be leading walking tours during which participants will experience nature and learn a little about the history of the area. Ben-Zaken, who was born in Morocco, will also regale visitors with fascinating stories about his own personal aliyah experience.
Dates: December 5 and 6, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: A full-day ticket costs NIS 140 if bought ahead. On site, tickets cost NIS 160. A family ticket (up to 5 individuals) costs NIS 580 ahead and NIS 630 on site.
Info and tickets: 054-665-6512.
At the City of David in Jerusalem, visitors can join a lantern tour of the Herodian water channel that leads up to the Western Wall. This passage was used by the last Jewish rebels fighting in Jerusalem on the eve of the destruction of the Second Temple. Participants will get a taste of what the rebels felt during this crucial moment in Jewish history. At the end of the passage, guests will come out near the Kotel and be invited to climb up to the ancient street that pilgrims would use on their journey to the Temple for festivals.
Dates: December 4 to 6, at 11 a.m, noon, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Price: Tours are two hours long and cost NIS 45 for adults and NIS 35 for children.
Reservations: *6033 or (02) 626-8700‏
Acre is known as a city where Jews, Christians and Muslims all live together peacefully. During Hanukkah, a new initiative called Nashim Mevashlot (Women Cooking) will be organizing a special tour that will be led by local Jewish and Arab women. Participants will discover new tastes, flavors and customs each culture has to offer.
The tour will begin at the Otzrot Bahoma Museum, where participants will learn how homes were lit before the era of electricity. The next stop will be the Al-Jazzar Mosque, where visitors will learn about the importance of lights during the month of Ramadan. At the local church, guests will hear the story of St. George from Cyprus, who lit up the city some 200 years ago, and as you walk down Yonatan Hahashmonai Street, you’ll hear about the connection between the Hasmoneans and the city of Acre.
During a visit to the Eitan Horowitz’s art studio, guests will get to view his remarkable hanukkiah collection. Lunch will include treats from Georgian cuisine prepared by local Jewish and Arab women.
Dates: December 5 and 19
Tours will be led by Acre native Andrew Abdo.
Price: NIS 190 for adults, NIS 100 for children
Info and reservations: (03) 690-9463
From December 2 to 9, the Israel Electric Company and KKL-JNF will be holding its annual Bashvil Ha’or Social Run. The starting point of the run is Agmon Hahula and it will finish at the end of Hanukkah in Eilat. Each day of the run will be devoted to a different societal value, and on Friday, December 7, the run will reach Gilat Intersection, where a giant happening will take place.
Price: Free, but preregistration is required.
Every person who registers online will receive a running kit that includes a T-shirt, water bottle and bag.
Special tours of Rosh Hanikra will take place every Shabbat from Hanukkah through the end of December. The Otzrot Hagalil initiative offers combo tickets that include entrance to the grottoes site, as well as a guided agricultural tour in electric cars of Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra. Tours will include a visit to the exotic fruit center, tastings and explanations while walking through the banana and avocado fields, the cowshed (which received an award from the EU), and the nursery.
Tours last one hour.
Dates: Every Saturday in December at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
Price: NIS 87
Details: 077-996-4433
The Old Jaffa Development Company will be holding hanukkiah tours in Old Jaffa this Hanukkah. During the tour, guests will be taken to artist studios and galleries where they will see hanukkiot that light up the darkness on the holiday and hear fascinating stories about life in the ancient port city throughout history.
Dates: December 5 and 6, at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Price: NIS 30 (NIS 15 for Digital Card holders)
Meeting point: Café Kedem, 1 Mazal Dagim Street, Jaffa.
The Israel Heritage Week Celebration will take place for the fifth year in a row on Hanukkah at the Belvoir Fortress, located in the Kochav Hayarden National Park.
Belvoir is the best-preserved Crusader fortress in Israel, and a spectacular Hanukkah activity will be held inside the fortress, which overlooks the Jordan Valley and Ein Yadid Spring. Visitors will discover heroes who lived in the fortress during Crusader times, as well as learn about Orde Wingate and “The Old Man of Naharayim.”
Dates: December 1 to 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Price: NIS 22 for adults and NIS 9 for children.
Details: (04) 658-1766 or
The Be’erot Banegev Center at Kibbutz Alumim will be holding tours during Hanukkah during which guests will learn that the kibbutz was the first religious community settled in the Negev, and about the harsh conditions they are currently living under in the Gaza periphery area. The tour will begin at the synagogue that overlooks the fields, continue through the kibbutz and then end up at the lookout point in the Be’erot Yitzhak Banegev Heritage Center. Guests are also welcome to take part in traditional kibbutz activities, such as riding the kibbutz train, taking a tour of the unique hanukkiah collection, and participating in a special Hanukkah art workshop.
Tours last two hours and locally grown produce will be on sale.
Dates: December 3 to 6.
Price: NIS 25 or NIS 100 for the whole family.
Details: (08) 993-7300, 054-775-6070
At the Ramat Negev Desert Agriculture Research Center, guests will be introduced to a variety of different oils, and invited to participate in activities such as quizzes, arts-and- crafts workshops, tastings and science experiments. There will also be a number of free activities on site, including the screening of a video about agricultural R&D and solar energy, a self-guided tour of the stations, an agricultural dreidel game (that comes with a gift that blooms), coloring pages, Hanukkah riddles, tastings of vegetables, olives and olive oil, as well as a science experiment involving oil and water.
Another activity that involves a fee is a 45-minute guided tour of the greenhouses that costs NIS 35. There will also be jojoba oil candle making workshop that costs NIS 15. Workshops start on the hour.
Dates: December 7 to 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.