Well ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year once again. It's hard to believe that I'm spending my second Hanukkah here in Israel. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was celebrating a Hanukkah getaway with my husband at the Dead Sea and witnessing the celebrations of Hanukkah at Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate throughout the eight nights.
Everywhere you go, you can see here in Israel signs that Hanukkah is about to begin. Decorations in the stores, jelly doughnuts in every bakery and menorahs for sale at every turn. Tonight, December 20, 2011 marks the first of our eight nights of Hanukkah. Just like last year, you can head over to Jaffa Gate where the majority of Jerusalem residents will gather nightly to watch the menorah lighting ceremony and to participate in some outrageously festive song and dance.
Be sure to try out some typical Hanukkah food as well, including an assortment of jelly doughnuts (called sufganiyot) and of course, latkes (fried potato pancakes) and applesauce.
Jerusalem in particular is known to be a great place to spend Hanukkah. Here in the holy city you can opt to take a menorah walk, which is a special tour through some of Jerusalem's more religious neighborhoods where residents will leave their lit menorahs for you to view in their windows. Imagine an entire neighborhood filled with dazzling menorahs in the windows. Only here in Israel will you see something like this.
Kids love this holiday too because not only do they get gifts for eight nights in a row, but also, they get to play the dreidel game. Wondering what's at stake? Loads and loads of chocolate gelt.
And all the typical Hanukkah songs can be heard around town, in stores and being sung at nighttime during public Hanukkah celebrations like the one below at the Kotel.
No matter where you are in the world, I hope you are doing something special to celebrate our annual holiday. To all, Happy Hanukkah!