The tours, events and shows that will light up your Hanukkah

Archaeological digs, cupcake decorations, museum tours and neighborhood explorations are some of the activities on offer during the eight-day holiday

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Lit Hanukkah menorahs are part of the tour in Jerusalem's Old City during the eight-day holiday, which begins November 28, 2021 (Courtesy Michal Ben Atar)
Lit Hanukkah menorahs are part of the tour in Jerusalem's Old City during the eight-day holiday, which begins November 28, 2021 (Courtesy Michal Ben Atar)

The holiday of lights, dreidels and sufganiyot doughnuts approaches, starting Sunday evening, November 28 through Monday, December 6, with activities being held across the country for the eight days of Hanukkah.

While Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned Wednesday of possible restrictions over the eight-day holiday due to a rise in infections, primarily among children, plans are in progress for every kind of holiday gathering, given the six-day school vacation for this festival of lights.

We’ve gathered an assortment of options for Hanukkah, including museum tours, baking workshops, archaeological site visits, concerts and screenings:

1. The Anu Museum of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University is offering special Hanukkah tours of its menorah collection, gathered from around the globe and through the ages, along with stories of Jewish heroes of all kinds, including artists who brought light to their particular time periods. Any family visiting the museum will receive Hanukkah gelt to spend in the museum shop. Head to the Anu website to purchase museum tickets, NIS 52 per person, free up to age 5.

2. Jerusalem’s new Karon Theater at Liberty Bell Park is putting on a Hanukkah Festival with a range of puppet shows for kids of all ages. Opening November 30 through December 6, the theater will present plays each day, as well as workshops and outdoor events on the grounds of the park. See the Karon Theater website for the selection of performances, all of which are in Hebrew, but often with more movement than text, making them easy to understand for non-Hebrew speakers as well.

3. There are a few family-friendly movies at the upcoming Jewish Film Festival, November 27 through December 2, featuring flicks about Jewish thinkers, artists, activists and other creative types at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. Times of Israel readers receive a 20-percent discount on all films and events with the following code: jjff21.

Some of the Hanukkah menorahs on display at the Anu Museum in Tel Aviv, including one loaned by the Sir Isaac and Lady Edith Wolfsohn Museum, during Hanukkah which begins November 29, 2021. (Courtesy Shahar and Ziv Katz)

4. Head to Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood December 2 and 3 for a festival organized by village residents. The Thursday evening through Friday event includes corner concerts, open houses in local artists’ studios, nature walks and tours of Ein Kerem’s churches and mosques, roadside food stands, a prayer for rain event and a musical Kabbalat Shabbat service led by Rabbi Benny Lau.

Donut-topped cupcakes are part of the workshop offered by Baker Street TLV during Hanukkah 2021 (Courtesy Baker Street TLV)

5. Thinking about doughnuts and all things baked on this oily holiday? Baker Street TLV’s Georgia Green and Lee’at Gentely are offering a parent and child Hanukkah cupcake workshop on Sunday, December 5. Participants will bake cupcakes, prepare and pipe buttercream and decorate doughnut-shaped cookies that will have a professional look and taste. The workshop is for kids ages 8-12.

6. For something a little more alternative, try Jerusalem’s annual Musrara Mix Festival, November 30 through December 2, produced by the Musrara School of Art with much interaction from the local Musrara neighborhood and community center. The annual event includes performance art and interactive exhibits, often with a political bent, with special attention paid to the 50 years of Jerusalem’s Black Panthers, who first organized in Musrara, and to the kinds of art that help renew the many different neighborhoods surrounding Musrara.

7. Sticking around Jerusalem? There are several tours, workshops and adventures connected to Hanukkah, many in and around the Old City, from November 30 through December 2, organized through the East Jerusalem Development Company. There are guided tours from Yad Ben Zvi, including late afternoon walks to see candlelit menorahs outside residents’ homes, workshops at the Hutzot Hayotzer artists’ gallery working with mosaics, glass and ceramics, and guided walks along the southern pedestrian path from Jaffa Gate.

8. Hanukkah could be just the time to explore historic and archaeological sites around Israel, as the Parks and Nature Authority, Antiquities Authority, the National Library of Israel and Yad Ben Zvi are celebrating Heritage Week, working together to offer tours, workshops, archaeological digs and discovery of dozens of sites from north to south, November 29 through December 6. Visitors can explore a Hasmonean palace, make oil candles, participate in an archaeological dig, hear stories about Hanukkah and watch a play. Go to the Moreshet site for more information.

The Festival of Lights opens for Hanukkah at Jerusalem’s Botanical Gardens, November 29, 2021 (Courtesy Ron Peled)

9. It’s a festival of lights each night of Hanukkah at Jerusalem’s Botanical Gardens, with the trees and bushes of the gardens lit up for the Winter Lights event, along with background music from the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, food trucks and stands featuring hot chestnuts, baked potatoes, crepes, hotdogs, sangria and of course, sufganiyot. Opening November 27, entry for adults at NIS 40 per person, and NIS 25 for children ages 5-12.

10. And for those across the ocean, the Israel Philharmonic String Quartet is heading out on a US tour of galas and performances, beginning December 1.

The 2021 tour will be the first time Israel Philharmonic musicians have performed in the US in two years, and the first international tour since the pandemic began.  The San Francisco Gala will be streamed free on December 12.

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