As we close out 2022, I am overdue to put together another blog. I could probably devote this whole blog to political developments in Israel - but that would be a depressing post and would probably bore those of us you who are less interested in Israeli politics. So I have instead put together a smattering of items. Hopefully one or more will interest you. That's not to say that I will skip Israeli politics entirely - I certainly won't. But this will be more of one of those "stream of consciousness blogs" hitting on a few different topics. Hopefully it will all come together.
"Holiday Season" in Israel
I don't mean that in a negative way towards those who celebrate. But in Canada, the November-December period is the time of year when I am reminded that I don't really belong. Decorations and trees are everywhere - in stores, office places, malls. The Second Cup that I go to in the mornings to grab a coffee starts playing all Christmas music 24/7 the day after Halloween. Is that really necessary? I guess if the majority of people enjoy it - then great. Even for people who fully embrace the holiday - I think they probably used to start getting ready in early December. Now the whole month of November has also become entirely Christmas oriented in many places.
I grew up in an environment in which in my early years the school I attended recited the "Lord's Prayer," (and forced everyone to do so) even though it was a "public school." We had Christmas concerts, Christmas Carols and other trappings of the ubiquitous Christian majority culture. As one the small minority who did not celebrate these holidays, I always felt that I just didn't fit in this time of year.
So for me, it is somewhat refreshing to spend this time in a place where things are completely different. Christmas in Israel, in most areas, is a normal work day. Everything is open and operates on a normal, non-holiday schedule. In some predominantly Christian areas, there are certainly festivities, decorations and celebrations. In Nazareth, Bethlehem, parts of Jerusalem and other areas, Christmas is celebrated actively. I certainly have nothing against that and wish everyone celebrating a Merry Christmas. But, around the rest of Israel, there is a totally different December atmosphere.
Although Chanuka coincides this year with Christmas, it is a relatively minor holiday. Some places have a Chanukiah set up for lighting (for example, this restaurant that we were at the other day - pictured above). But since it is not really a major holiday, most places haven't really done any decorating. No one is wearing ugly Chanuka sweaters in Israel (even though it is cold and rainy) and people are working as usual. Our visiting guests couldn't believe it since I think it was their first "holiday season" in Israel.
Our big holiday period is the September-October holidays - from Rosh Hashanah to Simchat Torah - or again over Pesach (Passover). During those time periods, many businesses are closed, there are festivals around the country and many people are off work, travelling or celebrating. I could imagine that Yom Kippur in Israel would feel very imposing to someone who is not Jewish since everything is closed. Though I don't know of any radio station in Israel that would start playing Yom Kippur and other high holiday music 6 weeks before the actual holiday.
Here you can see an example of some of the types of "sofganyot" (filled donuts, basically) that are sold this time of year.
And even though we actively try to minimize the frying - every once in a while (like during Chanuka and Pesach) - we do enjoy a few potato latkes. I like them much more than donuts personally. In fact, I'll admit that I like them too much - especially with home made apple sauce or fresh sour cream.