MembersHow Do Different People Celebrate Hanukkah Around the World?

Hanukkah traditions and celebrations are almost as numerous and varied as the different Jewish communities

By Rachel Avraham | | Topics: Hanukkah
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv and Eitan Ben Eliyahu, former Commander of the Israel Air Force, at a Menorah Lighting Ceremony on the fourth night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, at the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv. Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Growing up in the United States celebrating Hanukkah was very different than how we do it in Israel. Like many other Jewish families in the United States, I used to get eight presents for every night of Hanukkah as a child. My father even invented a story where he told me that Grandpa Hanukkah visits Jewish homes on Hanukkah and gives the Jewish children even more presents than the Christian kids receive. He told me this so I would never be jealous of the Christian kids in elementary school.

Apparently, his story is not without precedent. The Saturday Night Live television show has created a character known as Hanukkah Harry, a sort of Jewish Santa Claus. In The New York Times, Jonathan Safran Foer satirically claimed that “he is a real person who drops in on Jewish homes each of the night of Hanukkah to deliver gifts that are in no way dependent on children’s good behavior.”

Celebrating Hanukkah in the United States, I also used to eat...

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