Chanukah in Israel | TCS Israel
Chanukah is an important event for religious Jews in Israel. The holiday commemorates the reclaiming of Jerusalem and involves several traditions, including lighting the menorah and eating delicious fried foods. But beyond these traditions, there are many Chanukah events for Anglos held throughout the country.
Here, we explore many of the most important Chanukah events in the country, which will help you get in the festive mood for any upcoming trips there.
Chanukah Events for Anglos
Chanukah is a magical time in Israel. Events happen all over the country as families celebrate the famous “festival of lights.” In 2022, Chanukah begins on December 18, continuing for eight nights before concluding on December 26.
What kinds of Chanukah events for Anglos occur during this period?
The types of events vary. They include reverential evening tours, during which participants can light candles, including the Menorah. Other events take a more festive tone, such as events held in Tel Aviv Independence Park that incorporate live music, enjoying the traditional treat of Chanukah donuts, and special workshops for children.
If you’re preparing for a trip to Israel during this special time, you need to know when these events take place and in which cities they occur.
Chanukah Events in Jerusalem
Jerusalem has a wide range of Chanukah events for religious Jews and events that celebrate the holiday while not leaning too heavily on the religious implications. Here’s a selection of events you may find interesting, regardless of your religious affiliation.
Lights in the Alleys
Take in a guided Menorah tour that’s suitable for the whole family. Lights in the Alleys wind through the streets of Jerusalem. In addition to seeing the beautiful Chanukah lights that many residents set up in their homes, you’re regaled with stories of unique holiday mysteries. The tour also includes fun games and puzzles for children, making it an interactive event that is sure to live on in the memory.
This cyclic tour is operated by Travel Jerusalem and starts at the Jaffa Gate before taking in the city’s Jewish Quarter. It takes place between November 30 and December 8.
Candle Lighting at the Kotel
Candle lighting at the Kotel is one of Jerusalem's traditional Chanukah events. This annual tradition involves the lighting of special candles at Kotel, which is the site that’s closest to where the Chanukah miracle occurred.
A beautiful bronze Menorah is the event’s centerpiece. Standing over two meters high and wide, the Menorah weighs approximately one ton and is a fascinating sight when lit. Participants follow the mehadrin custom of using olive oil to light the candles, which burn through the night before going out, ready to be relit the next night.
This event takes place nightly between December 18 and 25, offering plenty of opportunities to see this beautiful custom.
Chanukah Events in Beit Shemesh
Beit Shemesh is a city whose name translates to “Temple of the Sun.” This beautiful Bronze Age region tends to hold more traditional events.
Two Shabbat Torah readings take place in Beit Shemesh, offering the opportunity to observe traditional Jewish practices.
The first takes place between December 16 and 17. Starting at 3:58 p.m., the event begins with the lighting of traditional candles to mark Shabbat. A Torah reading of Vayeshiv takes place, with Shabbat ending at 5:18 p.m. on December 17.
A second Torah reading, this time focusing on Mikeitz, takes place toward the end of Chanukah. Beginning at 4:01 p.m. on December 23 with the lighting of candles, the event ends at 5:22 p.m. on December 24.
Chanukah Events in Tel Aviv
Chanukah events in Tel Aviv are special because of the city’s coastal location. Residents take full advantage of their surroundings to celebrate the holiday, with the following being two of the biggest events.
Light Up Tel Aviv
Celebrate the Festival of Lights at a coastal event incorporating live music, Menorah lighting, and Maccabees performances. The evening begins at 5 p.m. on December 19 with arts and crafts sessions to go along with live music. Kids will also love the event as it incorporates traditional Jewish donuts and other snacks,
The Menorah lighting takes place at 5:30 p.m., sparking a communal celebration that lasts through the night. Light Up Tel Aviv is a free event, making it an amazing way for religious Jews to enjoy Chanukah's festivities.
The Sunset Series Chanukah Party
Young adults who enjoy a party will love The Sunset Series Chanukah Party. Part of Tribe Tel Aviv’s Sunset Series, the party is open to young adults in their 20s and 30s. It gives them a chance to meet and listen to influential thinkers, writers, and decision-makers from TLV, making the event as much of a networking opportunity as a celebration of Chanukah.
The Sunset Series Chanukah Party takes place at the Capella Lounge on December 21 between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. There’s no charge for entry, though you must register for the event via Eventbrite. Enjoy discounted cocktails and conversations with great people that offer fantastic learning opportunities.
Chanukah Events in Ashkelon
As a region of Israel, Ashkelon holds some Chanukah events in Israel for Anglos. One of the best for meeting others and sharing in the season's spirit is at Congregation B’Nai Israel (CBI).
The Winter Chanukah Shabbat Dinner
On December 16, CBI holds its annual Winter Shabbat Dinner. With two dinner services, the event allows you to enjoy a fully catered meal with several traditional dishes. Potato latkes are the highlight, of course.
The first dinner seating takes place at 5 p.m., with a later seating at 6:30 p.m. Between the two dinner services, diners can participate in the Kabbalat Shabbat Yaldeinu b'Yachad Service at 5:30 p.m. This service takes place in the CBI’s Sanctuary and on Zoom.
Chanukah Events in Ashdod
Lying on the Mediterranean coast between Tel Aviv and Gaza, Ashdod is one of Israel’s most important industrial ports. But it’s also a place where the Chanukah celebrations continue in full swing.
Shabbat Candle Lighting
Religious Jews can participate in Torah readings and Chanukah candle lighting in Ashdod. A Shabbat Torah reading of Vayeshev takes place on December 16, along with candle lighting at 4:18 p.m. A second Shabbat reading, focusing on Mikeitz, takes place on December 23. The candles are lit at 4:21 p.m. for this event.
Chanukah Events in Haifa
Another of Israel’s most important seaports, Haifa, is home to one of the most important Chanukah events for religious Jews.
The Holiday of Holidays Festival
The Holiday of Holidays Festival takes place across three weekends at the Beit Hagefen Arab-Jewish Cultural Center. It provides an opportunity for the Israeli and Arabic cultures to come together and celebrate their religious holidays.
The event takes place on the following dates:
Participants can enjoy the arts, including musical, theatrical, and comedic performances. Plus, the event’s hosts offer guided tours that allow you to take in the many sights of Haifa during Chanukah.
Chanukah Events for Kids
Some of the best Chanukah events in Israel for Anglos are the events that invite children to join in the celebrations. Here are two that incorporate learning and fun activities.
Chanukah 2022 at the Aladdin Olive Farm
Discover how the olive oil used to light Menorah candles is made during this educational and enjoyable event. Children get to participate in the harvesting and pickling olives, which they take home with them. The event also includes chicken feeding and grinding wheat for flour. Adults aren’t left out either, as they can work with their kids to prepare pitot under the farm’s supervision.
The event takes place between December 20 and 26.
The NBN Family Chanukah Party
Taking place in Jerusalem on December 25 at 5:30 p.m., the NBN Family Chanukah Party is one of the best Chanukah events for kids. You can celebrate the final day of Chanukah with your family by taking part in candle lighting and watching the Maor Youth prize ceremony. The event wraps up with a visit to Cinema City to watch a movie, making this a fabulous night out with the family.
Museums to Visit on Chanukah
Israel hosts many beautiful museums that are perfect venues for families to visit during Chanukah.
The Ashdod Art Museum
This multi-disciplinary museum is in the Monart Arts Center in the heart of Ashdod. Its stunning glass roof is shaped like a pyramid, allowing visitors to enjoy the sights of the sea and marina. The museum showcases contemporary art along with a host of interactive exhibitions.
The Tower of David Museum
In 2022, the Tower of David Museum will operate Jerusalem’s Citadel tour during Chanukah. This guided tour takes stunning views of Jerusalem as participants explore the secrets of the city’s famous citadel.
The tour lasts approximately two hours and takes place daily at 10 a.m. between December 22 and 26.
Enjoy Chanukah Events in Israel for Anglos in 2022
No matter where you are in Israel, you will surely find several fascinating Chanukah events. Some are fantastical celebrations, making them ideal Chanukah events for kids. Others are more focused on the traditions of Chanukah, with several Chanukah events for religious Jews incorporating Torah readings and candle lighting.