Finding the Light Within - The Festival of Lights

Article by: unknown author

Sat December 08, 2012 | 00:00 AM

Israel-LightWithinHanukkah is particularly celebrated by the more devout in Israel

As seen on AFAR

As festivals go, Hanukkah (“Festival of Light”) ain’t one of the most raucous or vibrant. It’s a celebration that primarily happens at home with family and friends. One of my favorite experiences is to walk through one of the more orthodox neighborhoods in the evening and see the menorah with candles burning in each window and hear the singing from home to home.

For many, it’s a time to appreciate the miracles within one’s own life. Some of my Israeli friends choose to celebrate an important life theme they want to illuminate with the burning of each new candle, whether that evening’s theme is love or wisdom. Each Hanukkah candle holds an intention – a light of awareness – around that theme and then, on the final night when all eight candles are lit (plus the ninth candle that has helped to light the others), they stand as one powerful flame that represents all that is good in life.

It’s fitting that the most popular foods of this holiday are cooked in oil, reflecting the miracle of one night’s oil lasting eight nights. Latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts with fattening fillings) are the delectable treats of the season. For those who want to work off some pounds, they can follow the Olympic-like torch run from the ancient village where the Maccabean revolt began, Modiin, to Jerusalem that finishes twenty miles away at the Western Wall.

Some of the other worthy experiences include visiting the archeological site of Bet Guvrin, checking out some of the big production kids’ shows like Festigal and the Children’s Song Festival or going to Haifa, north of Tel Aviv, to Hag Ha Hagim, a series of cultural events and street fairs every Saturday in December. Finally, while I didn’t get to try it, I was intrigued by the EatWith celebration in which local chefs invite you into their homes to feast on a special dinner while lighting a candle and experiencing Hanukkah the Israeli way.