Monday, December 19, 2011

Hanukah, Oh Hanukah

One of the most exciting things about being is Israel is living the Jewish year. Everywhere I go lately, the smell of sufganiyot fills the air. There are chocolate sufganiyot, the original jelly sufganiyot, powdered coconut sufganiyot, and whipped cream sufganiyot. I sound a little like Bubba, but it's true, the choices are endless. There are tons of Hanukah parties and events happening all over every major city. There's Hanukah vacation, and we're working on Christmas. And there are the Hanukiot. I'll keep collecting and posting Hanukiot and other sites as I see them, so come back to check out all eight days:

 Preparing for Hanukah 

 Hanukiot being sold near Ben Yehuda. Turns out the artist just made aliyah one month ago and already has a studio and gallery. Also, she happens to know a good childhood friend of mine that also made aliyah around the same time that I arrived. She has beautiful things and is very sweet!

 Above is a huge, blinking Chanukiah in the school lobby in Gilo, where I went to participate in a Hanukah and Goodbye Party. On my way out, I saw that some kids had been hard at work setting up some special celebratory decorations. There was also an art display set up by some of the students in the school. Each candle had a different message on it.

When I was leaving the school, I happened to look up onto the roof of the music center and there was another Chanukiah on the roof, waiting to be lit. 

Erev Hanukah 

A Chanukiah painted on the wall near the Bakka Moadonit (after-school program) that I work at. It actually only has seven candle holders but I still count it.

On my walk home down Aza I saw another Chanukiah by one of the most delicious hummus places in Jerusalem. 
Hanukah, 1st Night

Our neighbors were lighting their Chanukiah across the way at the same time we were. I tried to get a good shot but it was too far away. There was a lot of swaying, singing, jumping, and smiling across the way. 
Our collection

We decided to have an impromptu Hanukah party for the first night. On our way to the supermarket to buy applesauce, eggs, and gelt, we saw another. 

Next to the supermarket, I saw a beautiful Chanukiah shimmering from someone's window. 
We were swimming in sufganiyot.

The whole apartment filled with the smell of oil. We didn't have a food processor or blender, so did some research on using an old fashion grater. When googling the pros and cons of grating vs. processing I came across a fascinating conversation stream about the status of kashrut if blood is included in the recipe (because, of course, it inevitably drips from the cuts one gets from the grater). One person commented that a latke isn't a latke without the blood. Another person explained the intricacies of law that prove it would still be kosher. Others talked about putting potatoes in water to keep them from browning and one had the idea of boiling them so that it's easier to grate. Maybe we should all rethink our favorite latke recipes! (Here are some unique ones)

Meanwhile, we collected dreidles to add to our collection of gelt. I got really excited when instead of reading nun, gimmel, hey, shin (for "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham") it had a pei for "po," or here. A great miracle happened HERE.

 Hanukah, Day 2

Today I went to one of the moadoniyot to decorate Chanukiyot with the kids. On my way there, I saw plenty of others on the streets.

Hanukiot hung from street poles and were propped up by fountains, squares, and buildings.

 There was even one on a car. One could only guess as to why. I wished I had time to stick around and see!


We lit candles together once again in our apartment on the second night and sang some Hanukah songs on guitar. One of the Chunakiot was an oil lamp.  

 Hanukah, Day 3

The next day, all of the JSC Israel fellows went to Beersheva to visit the Center for Independent Living (CIL) that Orly, one of the fellows from last year who stayed longer for a few months, worked at this past year. It was an inspirational place where people with disabilities in Israel are given all the support and help they need to fight for their equal rights and services they deserve. 

But the place is more than that: Dalyia, the woman who founded the restaurant next door and who built up this CIL center (the second one in Israel, and a beacon of example across the country), works hard to help people with disabilities to believe in themselves and accomplish things they never thought they would. She trains them and fights for the greater outside society to accept them. She also is very close to the Bedouin community that is right nearby and has done a lot of incredibly hard and inspirational work on their behalf. It was truly an honor to visit them. We lit candles with the staff of the Center for Young Adults of Beersheva and then had a delicious meal in a beautiful tent that houses "Inca," the restaurant that has its home right next to the CIL center. The flower-decorated log on the top right was designed and made by people who live in the center. All of the murals and paintings in the background were also done by those who work there.

Last night, I came home to the Kibbutz and Saba (my grandfather). We lit candles and sang Ma'oz Tzur (click here for an interesting version) and Nimla, the incredible Sri Lankan woman who takes care of my grandfather, surprised us with latkes! We ate while watching my Savta's (grandmother's) Chanukiah glow. 

 Hanukah, Day 4

I unfortunately forgot my camera so the only picture I have from today is a poor mobile upload, but nonetheless it helps to tell the story. Today I got a taste of the kibbutz Hanukah, one more along the lines of what I've always been used to. The kibbutz (mainly the children, including my cousin's two little cutsie-tutsies) put on what I would call a Hanukapalooza. First they did a great techno dance, followed by the lighting of the Chanukiah (pictured here). Then there was a sing-along of different Hanukah songs. After that, was the cutest presentation of a story about miracles, told using a projection screen that showed beautiful backdrops that flipped like pages of a book, and then the kids in costume acted out the story from behind the screen so that all you could see was their silhouettes. It was really magical. 

Then I went with my Saba, cousin, and the cutsies to celebrate the oldest tutsie's 9th birthday and my Aunt's birthday, whose age I will not reveal, but will say that the digits of her age add up to the tutsie's. My cousins, their cousins, aunts, uncles, their mothers, my Saba and I began the evening in front of a burning fireplace sipping delicious cinnamon spiked sangria they call "punch." It's something they have frequently this time of year and a smell and taste I've come to associate with Hanukah. The birthday girls lit the Hanukiah together and then my cousin (the little one's mother) and her cousin played flute and guitar and we all sang together. Then came the opening of birthday gifts, followed by an incredibly delicious dinner. My uncle, the chef, never fails to impress, and today he outdid himself. The evening was filled with laughter, incredible food, and was capped off by chocolate fondue with all sorts of fruits to pick and choose. Needless to say, day four is my favorite so far.

Hanukah, Day 5

 Hanukah festivities kicked off in a slight drizzle at the playground on the kibbutz. There was a "Hanukah Sameach" (Happy Hanukah) sign of fire (left) and an awesome dance with lights by the children, including my cousin's two girls and lanterns the kids made (below)

After eating special Hanukah fried gooey veggie balls, me and Saba lit the Chanukiah and sang the prayers while skyping with my parents back home.

Here we are singing together. The fifth night is also my brother's Hebrew birthday but he wasn't home. Instead he was on a flight to Thailand. A poor life he leads... :)

I think the design of this Chanukiah is a little problematic. This keeps happening each night! Ima didn't seem to mind, though. 

 Almost time to go to sleep...

Hanukah, Day 6
After spending Shabbat with Saba on the kibbutz, I went with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and her two daughters (pictured left) up north to visit another cousin. We had a beautiful drive and then settled in for a delicious dinner of latkes, both sweet (apple) and savory (potato). But nothing happened until we lit the candles for the sixth night. The two girls took turns, lighting three candles each.

 Hanukah, Day 7

The next day, following a delicious breakfast, we went hiking to go daffodil and crane sighting. 

Here is a beautiful, rusted bridge that went over the Jordan River. My uncle explained to me that we were in the "finger" on the top of Israel's map.  

There was incredibly vivid yellow moss growing on the trees. 

Cranes have migrated here for years, but more recently there has been quite an influx. They were eating crop and causing general destruction so farmers solved the problem by choosing one place to feed them, and there they were. We got so close we could almost touch them. There are no words for such beauty.  (For all of the pictures from the trip, go here)

Later that evening, I saw a very creative Chanukiah at the entrance to the restaurant. It as so nice when the entire restaurant got up to light a second Chanukiah inside.
There was another Chanukiah on the side of the road on the way back home. Obviously I wasn't able to capture it, but still thought it made for an interesting picture. And that brought an end to the seventh day. Hanukah is almost over...

The Last Day
It's so wonderful to go to work and see this. 

On the eighth night we lit Chanukiot together once again in our apartment and sang all the verses of Maoz Tzur. 

Happy Hanukah Everyone!!!

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