In Israel, where Chanukah in a Christmas-less society is a minor holiday, it’s still a major presence.
First, there’s the sufganiyot. That’s Hebrew for doughnuts.
The jelly-filled pastry is available everywhere for eight days — at bakeries, restaurants, even on El Al flights.
Fried, they’re a remembrance of the oil whose miracle two millennia ago is the center of the Chanukah story.
Then there’s the latkes. Primarily Ashkenazic fare, they’re less visible in the heavily Sephardic Jewish state. But they’re available if you know where to dine.
And there’s the menorahs — chanukiyot in Hebrew. You see the menorahs, oil or candles, wherever you go in Israel: in religious neighborhoods and secular, in windows and outside of apartments, in private homes and public squares, synagogues and kibbutzim.
A symbol of religious freedom, Chanukah carries great importance for the contemporary Maccabees, a time for members of the government to salute members of the military.
At an army base in the Negev, President Shimon Peres lights a menorah with a group of soldiers.