Hanukkah in Israel

Hanukkah in Israel is an important and iconic festival, widely celebrated and marked by many symbolic events, customs and, of course, food. Though the spelling is very much contested – Hanuka, Chanukah, Hannukah are all acceptable options – it’s a time that everyone in Israel comes together to celebrate. The Festival of Light is an eight-day festival, and is a true celebration of hope and freedom. Despite the cold weather, in Israel you can feel the holiday spirit permeating throughout the country. In 2023, Hanukkah in Israel will take place fom December 7-15. This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate both special holidays in Israel this year!

How to celebrate Hanukkah in Israel

The traditional lighting of the Hanukkah candles is performed at night. This makes it the perfect time to get cozy and enjoy some traditional oily foods. Try some sufganiyot and latkes, join special Hanukkah tours, and take the kids to various museum events and theatrical performances.

The best way to celebrate Hanukkah on your visit to Israel is more simple than you might think: the true magic of the holiday can be accessed by walking around residential neighborhoods of Israel. Families gather outside their homes to light the special candles together at sunset. By the time it gets dark, full streets are illuminated by candlelight.

Spend an evening this Hanukkah witnessing this magic for yourself: this Jerusalem evening walking tour is available 3 evenings this holiday season! You’ll traverse traditional Jerusalem central neighborhoods before enjoying delicious Hanukkah donuts.

Reserve Your Spot this hanukkah

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The history of Hanukkah

The festival of Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BCE. The Temple had been partially destroyed by the ancient Greeks, and when the Maccabees re-entered the Temple, they only found a tiny amount of oil. The oil was supposed to be used to light a candle every single night, but there was only enough for one day. The miracle of Hanukkah was that the oil burned for eight days instead of only one. The Jewish sages declared an eight-day festival to commemorate this miracle. This is why Hanukkah is observed for eight days and nights.

One symbol of Hanukkah you will see across Israel in both homes and public places are Menorahs or Hanukkiahs. These are small versions of the original Menorah from the Temple. These candelabras are lit every night of the festival, with another candle added each night. It’s the perfect time of year to visit the Old City of Jerusalem, where there’s a public Hanukkah lighting ceremony at the Western Wall.

What do people eat on Hanukkah?

hanukkah in israel sufganiyot hanukkah food donuts
Sufganiyot, or Hanukkah donuts, that are eaten across Israel during the holiday

Since the miracle of Hanukkah involved oil, the modern tradition of Hanukkah is to eat oily foods. Yum! In the month or so leading up to Hanukkah, cafes around the country will start to sell Sufganiyot, which are filled donuts. While the basic Sufganiyah is a simple powdered donut filled with jelly or caramel, you can now get very elaborate versions of the delicious treat!

Other popular foods are Latkes, which are fried Potato pancakes, and Sfinge, which is a Moroccan take on the Sufganiyah.

If you join our Carmel Market Food Tour in Tel Aviv during the Hanukkah festival, you’ll get to enjoy all these treats and more.

The Hanukkah Jerusalem walking tour will also include tasting these delicious sweet treats. Reserve your spot now.

Happy Hanukkah!

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Event Date: 07/12/2023

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