Lots of fun Hanukka options

Here are some entertaining ways to spend the holiday in Israel’s national parks and the outdoors.

The festival of the Maccabees in the Binyamin region. (photo credit: SAMUEL YESHA)
The festival of the Maccabees in the Binyamin region.
(photo credit: SAMUEL YESHA)
Hanukka is the perfect time to go on a funfilled winter vacation.
There’s time to spend with the kids, hike in nature and participate in exciting holiday-related activities.
Here are a few suggestions for entertaining ways to spend the holiday in Israel’s national parks and the outdoors. All activities are in Hebrew.
Tour of heroes in the Western Galilee
This Hanukka, Ozrot Hagalil and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority will be holding a tour focusing on heroism at heritage sites in the Western Galilee. Led by a professional actor, it will pass through sites that played a key role in the War of Independence; guests will be told famous stories about the Yehiam convoy, tower and stockade, the siege of Nahariya, and the steadfastness of Israeli soldiers.
The tour will begin at the Yehiam Convoy Memorial, move on to the fortress and oil lamps, and end with a festive candle-lighting ceremony.
Appropriate for the whole family.
Meeting point: Yehiam Convoy Memorial near Moshav Netiv Hashayara.
Dates: December 18, 19, 21, 22, 23.
First tour 5 p.m.; second tour 7:30 p.m.
Price: NIS 40 to NIS 50.
Reserve tickets: *3639.
Candle-lighting in the haredi city
There’s nothing more authentic than lighting Hanukka candles in a haredi neighborhood. Tehila Kenigstein of the Discover Tel Aviv Center will be leading a tour of hanukkiot in Bnei Brak, which is festively lit up during the holiday as residents light Hanukka lamps in their windows.
Participants on the walking tour through the densely populated neighborhood will hear how the city began as a small agricultural colony. The tour will pass through Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yohanan Ben-Zakai streets, Gerstenkoren Boulevard and the Zichron Meir neighborhood, finishing in the courtyard of the famous Lithuanian Ponevezh Yeshiva – where a student will talk about his experience there. Guests may then enter the synagogue to listen to hassidic melodies and learn about the various types of hanukkiot on display.
Meeting point: 51 Rabbi Akiva Street, Bnei Brak.
Date: December 21, 4:45 p.m.
Price: NIS 50.
Modest attire and preregistration required: (03) 510-0337.
Journey in search of the lost jug of oil
The Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City is one of the most amazing places to celebrate Hanukka. The Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter is organizing activities for the whole family throughout the holiday.
The tour I love best is the Journey in Search of the Lost Jug of Oil, which begins in the courtyard below the Hurva Synagogue (or Dung Gate). Tour participants will use hints to solve puzzles to help them figure out how to reach the next station; each stop will involve an activity, such as making jugs, walking under the Herodian Quarter or viewing an extensive hanukkia exhibition. Participants can also enter the archeological park, where the miracle of the oil jug it thought to have occurred.
Dates: December 21-23, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: NIS 30 per child; adults free. Each child will receive a Maccabee costume, treasure map and jelly doughnut.
Grandpa’s Warehouse
Grandpa’s Warehouse invites visitors to the pastoral village of Beit Meir, to go back in time to discover objects, books and documents that tell the story of the creation of the State of Israel. The week of Hanukka, guests will be introduced to authentic objects from the Hasmonean Dynasty, the most Zionist hanukkia in the world and a cast-lead dreidel, and hear about how new immigrants celebrated Hanukka while living in transit camps just after Israel became a state.
Meeting point: Moshav Beit Meir.
Dates: Throughout the week.
Price: NIS 30.
Make an appointment: 052-260-0732.
Festival of Maccabees
The Maccabees fought in multiple battles in the Binyamin region, and a three-day festival will be held there over Hanukka to commemorate their victories. Visitors will be regaled with exciting stories about Maccabee history, with attractions and hikes in their footsteps.
The best way to start the day is by approaching one of the information stations in Mitzpe Modi’in, where you will be given a treasure map and a child’s Maccabee costume. Then, move among the various stations and enjoy the attractions, watch the street theater performances, listen to the musicians, engage in arts-and-crafts projects, crawl through caves, walk on trails and participate in a festive candle-lighting ceremony at the end of the day.
Dates: December 19, 9 a.m.-1 p.m; December 21-22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Price: Most activities free of charge.
Pioneers and water
The Gan Hashlosha (Sakhne) National Park is celebrating the spirit of pioneers and archeology. In addition to the refreshing natural pools open to bathers all year long, Gan Hashlosha will reenact a show about the tower and stockade to commemorate the site’s 78th anniversary.
Kids can clean laundry in old-time basins, have their picture taken in pioneer clothing while holding baskets of gravel, and take part in a workshop to make tin lanterns (Sunday through Tuesday).
In the nearby archeology museum, Traces of the Valley, walk along a path marked with clay lamps to an exhibition of colorful pottery lamps, used to light homes in Maccabee times; take note of the relief of a menorah on a wall, and a restored olive press from ancient times.
Dates: Throughout Hanukka, 8 a.m. TO 4 p.m.
Museum open daily, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Price: NIS 24 to NIS 40.
Bees and hanukkiot.
Lin’s Bee Farm will be offering fun family activities throughout the holiday; visitors can learn all about the world of bees and create colorful candles and hanukkiot from natural materials.
Dates: All week (except saturday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: NIS 40.
Make an appointment: 054-220-7965.
Water in the heart of the desert
If you’re looking for a challenging adventure down south, join the fascinating “Wild Israel in Gilad’s Area” group, which will set out in search of desert water sources. This one-day trip combines hiking, reading of biblical sources and learning methods for identifying water sources.
Meeting point: Alon gas station at entrance to Arad.
Dates: December 16-17.
Details and price: 054-996-0748.
Chasing away the darkness
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel will hold a special holiday activity on the Friday morning of Hanukka, to show children the strong connection between nature and tradition. There will be a hanukkia-making workshop at the Ein Gedi Field School, a candle-lighting ceremony at the ancient Ein Gedi synagogue, and an oil lamp-lit hike between the Hawar hills at the foot of Masada.
Hike is medium difficulty and appropriate for the whole family.
Date: December 19.
Price: NIS 60-90.
Details and registration: 057-200-3030.
Translated by Hannah Hochner