Giving a gift is a wonderful opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to you. Everyone loves getting a gift, especially something useful and personal to them, and Chanukah is just the opportunity. Think about a time you got a present and how much it meant to you. Did it mean the giver loved you? Cared about you? Wanted you to be happy? It’s a wonderful gesture and it’s so much fun to receive something new! Chanukah presents are the highlight of many kids (and adults!) holiday festivities. The hard part is choosing what to get. Sometimes that classic, wallet or bracelet will do the trick…and sometimes you want something different, exclusive, and exciting. Whether you’re on a budget, or ready to go all out to make this present personalized and special, we’ve got you covered. From practical to unique, to classic Israeli gifts, you’ve come to the right place.
The first thing you have to know before buying a gift is what your family member, friend, Chessed girl, or morah might appreciate. What type are they? What do they need or already have? Is she a girly girl into makeup and jewelry? Or a more practical type looking for a cool bag or notebook? Is he fashionable? Into grilling? Good Alcohol? The more specific a gift is to the person receiving it, the more they’ll appreciate the thought behind it and the present itself. Try a gift certificate to a nail salon or makeup store for a girl who’s into beauty. An apron or a cookbook for a woman who loves to cook. Is your Yeshiva Bachur cousin missing the states? Fill a box for him with gushers, marshmallow fluff, MnM’s….the works. For someone who loves to receive presents, order a few surprise gifts from Wish or AliExpress to come over the next few months. These days you can also personalize anything in Israel, from wine glasses, clothing, makeup bags, and more. Whatever you do make it unique and special!!
Is She Practical?
Life in the Holy land gives you so many extras. Extra Kedusha, extra Yiddishkeit, extra brotherliness… but when it comes to stuff, we’re not the top of the line. People tend to live a little more simply and can enjoy more practical and useful gifts for everyday life. For an original fun gift that any family could appreciate, sign them up for the organic fruits and vegetable order for a month or more. Each week they will receive a box of organic delicious fruit and vegetable assortment. Useful and unique, this would be greatly appreciated by a more earthy and healthful kind of family. Are your loved ones not that type? Think about what they’d appreciate specifically. Have they been complaining that they need a bigger garbage can? Gift them with a shiny sleek new can that will give some good laughs and a lot of usages. Maybe they need some nice storage containers, cute jars for their spices, or toys for their kids. Have you seen those fast salad cutters sold all over Geula? It’s a cool kitchen gadget, where you place the vegetables underneath and press the button down a few times for a freshly chopped salad. Maybe you know they’re into music and looking for more options. Try signing them up for a Spotify account. For a more classic gift that can be practical for anyone, try a bottle of wine or any alcohol. Classy, useful, and always appreciated.
Does he love to go on Vacation?
Vacationing in Israel is special and fun. While you can’t buy someone a vacation you can generously chip in towards it in a few different ways. Many people enjoy camping out on the Kineret, in Meron, or many other places in Israel’s multifaceted land. If your friends or family are the types to enjoy an outdoor adventure, gift them with a new tent. Sleeping bags or a small barbecue would also be appreciated for someone looking to expand on their camping gear. For a less gutsy (and less expensive) Chanukah present, send your family or friends out for the day! Get them a gift certificate to jump kids, an indoor playground for young children, a pottery studio, or a restaurant for a nice dinner or brunch. Find out if you can get a gift certificate for big things like a Tzimmer or car rental, or smaller trips like bike riding, bowling, or the zoo.
Would she love a Classic Israeli gift?
Whether you’re buying a gift for someone in Israel or not, we all appreciate something sentimental from the Holy Land. The classic Israeli gifts can never get old. Try the olive wood shop we’re all fond of in Mea Shearim. They have small stuff like wooden key chains, pens, dreidels, and more, all decorated with a small sketch of the holy land, with room for an added name embellishment. They also have larger items like table Shtenders, door signs, or even toilet plungers specialized for each person. A short walk to Geula will bring you to the famous leather shop. With leather in every color, covering Siddurim, Tefillin mirrors, brushes, pens, and more, you’re bound to find something for a perfect gift. Israel’s authentic Judaica is appreciated all over the world, and are items that every Jewish family needs! We’re talking gorgeous washing cups, artful Mezuza cases, challah boards, kiddish cups, small candle holders, Havdala sets, and so much more. Gorgeous handcrafted jewelry can be found in every neighborhood or shopping center with Chamsas, Magen Davids, or anything else you can dream of. For a really beautiful Israel gift for a family, you want to show appreciation or love for, head to the old city for a beautiful work of art. Mamilla and Geula also carry beautiful paintings, precious metal Pesukim and other wall art.
Looking for something smaller?
If you’re looking to give a smaller gift or not spend too much money, go for something homemade. You can home bake a beautiful batch of donuts, contribute a dish to their Chanukah party or host them for a dinner. You can also print out pictures you have together to be framed, as a small keychain, or to be decorated by you, in a fun-loving way. A home-baked or store-bought box of sugar cookies nicely wrapped is a beautiful and yummy gift too. Try out the Shekel store to create unique Chanukah themed gift packages for everyone.
The main thing is to have fun while you shop, and be original. We hope you found some good ideas foreveryone, and have a Happy Chanukah!
When I think of Chanukah I immediately think of family time. Cozy circles around the candles, chilly and dark outside, glowing and warm inside. Husbands and fathers come home early and we gather around with the whole family for eight festive days! Let us all maximize on all this special family time as much as we can With the only Mitzvos being Hallel and Menorah, it’s really up to us to make it our own. Here
are some wonderful ideas for you and your loved ones to help bond and keep busy, all in the Chanukah spirit.
Decorate Your Chanukah Table
Whether you are having grand Chanukah parties or not, it’s always fun to have themed decor around your house for the holiday. Israeli shops fill with an abundance of Chanukah goodies- plastic ware, food, toys and more. The streets are bedecked with light-up menorahs and dreidels, completing the winter wonderland look for our Jewish country. Decorating your table will fill your home with that same Yom Tov vibe!
You can create a simple Menorah decoration by placing eight similar items down the middle of your table, and one bigger in the center as the Shamesh. Try glass cups of pretty flower arrangements. Simply place four glass cups of flowers in a row, one larger glass, and four more small ones. You can buy one big bunch of flowers from the corner pop ups on erev Shabbos and split them up yourself. For a colorful look try using glasses filled with plastic dreidels or candy. We all know this country has an abundance of candy to choose from, in the shuk in grocery stores and nut shops. Dreidels are popular in shekel stores, Geula, and almost anywhere else, starting from Rosh Chodesh Kislev and on. For a simpler setup that provides a classy and clean look, try placing tea lights on top of eight medium sized Voss water bottles and one taller one. You can get them in Israel here – https://israel.desertcart.com/products/91724157-voss-sparkling-water-800-ml
You can try piling up stacks of doughnuts for people to eat, or any other original ideas you can come up with to create this special holiday aura.
Crafts for Kids
With a house full of kiddies, arts and crafts is always a hit. Keep your children busy and excited about Chanukah by creating your own projects. Make a DIY Menorah with children that are too young to light their own. Decorate clothes pins as candles or use Velcro to allow you to add and remove candles each night, and use the Shamesh to “light” the other candles. Stickers work great as flames. You can even have these candles stuck onto a paper crown for your child’s head! For kids that can light their own Menorah, let them personalize it! With some rhinestones and a tin Menorah, you’re bound to end up with a masterpiece. You can get everything mentioned here, plus many more DIY Chanukah crafts, at the shekel stores, located in Bar Ilan Shmuel Hanavi, Geula, Shefa, and their other branches scattered all
One of the best parts of sitting outside with your Chanuka lights is knowing that there are hot latkas waiting for you in the kitchen. They say that food connects people, and let’s face it- whether you’re having a major Chanukah party or just spending time with family at home, you’re going to need some yummy food. Get into the kitchen with your spouse or kids and get baking! Donuts, latkas, anything oily. You know the drill! Donut holes are an awesome way to make donuts without having to shape each one. Simply create small little balls of dough for frying. You can even use a delicious challah dough recipe if you let it rise long enough. Toss them in icing sugar, glaze, or make a buffet of toppings for everyone to choose from. Classic sugar cookies are an all-time favorite as well, making for some good childhood memories. Cut them out in the shapes of dreidels, Menorah, donuts, and other Chanukah items. Decorate raw cookies with sprinkles, cookie crumbs and chocolate coins, or baked cookies with frosting and then toppings of your choice.
Have a wonderful Chanukah with your family! We hope you enjoy these ideas and that they enhance your Yom Tov. Keep warm and keep busy, and keep creating memories.
Ah Freilichen Chanuka!
Chanukah is around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited! Every Ma’afe Neeman and Nechama’s is overflowing with delectable looking doughnuts. Grocery stores are having 4 for 1 sales on chocolate coins, and the cold rainy season is in full fledge, waiting to be lit up by the Menorah lights. Whether your plans are to be cozy at home with your immediate family, or elaborately planned Chanukah parties with
cousins and friends, here are some great ideas for some upcoming Holiday fun. Enjoy these home activities for a wholesome and wonderful time!
1. Create a family video. There are so many wonderful things about living in Eretz Yisrael. Chanukah time especially, you feel it in the air; with every shop and home getting ready, menorahs going up all over the city, and a huge plus, no non-Jewish holiday items in sight! While this aspect is truly amazing, it can also be hard at times, especially when you’re not with family for Yom Tov. Try connecting with family all over the world by watching the same video with familiar faces. Before Chanukah send out a request for a video from each family member, with a question or guideline: Try family trivia, or favorite cousin memory. Let everyone have a good laugh and a great time connecting to family across the globe. Ask the tech-pro in the family to put it together, or hire someone to make it professional. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
2. Donut Decorating! We all know a good Chanukah party isn’t complete without good food. We wait for the classic sufganiot all year, along with Chanukah cookies or even some good cake. Turn your dessert into a fun activity by letting your guests decorate it themselves with frosting, sprinkles, cookies crumbs and chocolate coins! Either make it yourself, or ask your local bakery or home businesses for your
doughnuts and toppings separately. Try turning it into a contest, for the funniest, prettiest, or yummiest dessert. For an additional fun twist, split your group into teams. Show them a pre-decorated cake for a number of minutes, and then take it away, for them to copy by memory. Whoever comes out with the closest match wins! With whatever option you choose, you’ll end up with a creative game, and a
delicious dessert! Bitei’Avon!
3. Paint night! Another great, bonding activity is painting! Crafts are great for all ages, and could be more slow paced and relaxing. You can hire an instructor to come to your house with all the supplies, to teach everyone a pre-determined painting of choice. The instructor brings everything you need to set up, and can help each person individually. There are paint instructors in almost every neighborhood in Jerusalem. You can also order paint kits from many local home businesses for a DIY experience. Paint kits are delivered to your door with all the paint, brushes, and supplies necessary, including step by step picture instructions to follow along. Alternatively you can just order the supplies yourself, and get your creative juices flowing!
4. Dreidel….with a twist. We all love a good old fashioned game of dreidel, sitting around in a cozy circle, only complete with the Chanukah gelt. Dreidels in Israel can be picked up wherever you go – groceries, shekel stores, Judaica, you name it. Now try spicing up this traditional game with a few funky rules! Gimmel = get everything, Hay = half, Pey = pay ….and Nun = nothing? Try replacing Nun with a challenge! Every time a player lands on Nun, they have to pick a dare from a bowl! Dance around the room, sing a Chanukah song, taste a suspicious concoction or the like! Complete this game with a plethora of shekel store prizes and it will be a Chanukah party to remember!
5. Kahoots. There are many online escape rooms or fun games to choose from. Kahoots is a game of questions that you come up with, which your guests answer from their smart phones. This game can be projected on the wall, or placed on a laptop in the front of the room. Stick with Chanukah trivia, or maybe ask questions about the craziest thing each player has done. It’s an awesome connecting activity that can be played each person for themselves or in group teams. So dim the lights, and get involved. We hope you find something you enjoy on this list of Chanukah activities to lighten up your Chanukah party. Check out our website for more information on Chanukah in Israel.
Have a happy and Lichtege Chanukah!
With winter fast approaching, Motzei Shabbosim are getting longer and longer. I know, there are always
dishes to wash, but why not hit the town for a good time? Here are the top 5 things to do in Jerusalem
on a Saturday night.
1. Escape room
Going to an escape room is a fun and engaging activity for a couple or a group of friends. You and your
party are locked into a room (or sometimes a series of rooms) and have to look around for clues, codes
and keys until you break yourself out. There is a storyline told to you before you go in, and a series of
connecting clues leading you along, to help you get out in the time frame of one hour. It’s thrilling,
unifying and really thought-provoking. (Bring your smartest friends!) Its a great way to spend an evening
indoors with something fun to do. Although there are many escape rooms in Jerusalem, I found one I
liked in the Ben Yehuda area. Call to book in advance because only one group can go at a time.
Secret room Jerusalem
16, Yoel Moshe Salomon St, Jerusalem
2. Go out to eat.
This one never gets old! They say that eating connects people, and it’s definitely always enjoyable!
Whether you’re ordering to your home, finding a park to chill in, or eating in the restaurant (corona
permitting of course) eating out is a fun way to connect with friends and family. Check out our list of
restaurants for some good ideas and fast contact information. We have a separate list of dairy and parve
places, the usual go-to's after a Shabbos full of meat, or Fleishigs for those who want. Delivery options
are included, check it out!
3. Kever Rochel or Shmuel Hanavi
For those of us looking to get holy on a Motzei Shabbos and take advantage of living in the land, going to
a Kever is a great idea. There is always something or someone to Daven for, and Kevarim are a
wonderful way to connect. Kever Rochel has busses running even on Motzei Shabbos (try the 71 or 72.)
It’s a quick ride and a fantastic way to fill your evening.
Kever Shmuel Hanavi is less popular but also a great and fulfilling way to spend your Motzei Shabbos.
Any bus going up Shmuel Hanavi Street should take you to the bottom of the hill, although you still have a small mountain to climb! With a breathtaking view, Shmuel Hanavi is one of the highest points in Jerusalem, so hitch a ride, or put on your sneakers for the winding paved road ahead. Aside from being a wonderful Jewish prayer site, Kever Shmuel Hanavi is surrounded by a nice area with benches, gazebos
and places to walk around. With beautiful indoor bathrooms, it’s really all inclusive!
4. Bowling, Go Carts, Arcades
If you’re missing the fun thrill of a Dave and Busters, or local bowling alley, we’ve got you covered.
On the bottom few floors of Talpiot mall is a bowling alley, a room with arcades, karaoke, and go carts.
The bowling alley is really big and well done, complete with a cafe for chips and salsa, slurpees, and
loads of other snacks and treats. They are constantly upgrading their arcades. You can win tickets for
prizes or reserve a pool table. On the lower level is a go-cart track for 50 shekels per round. Enjoy!
HaUman St 17, קניון לב תלפיות
5. Ceramic Painting
For a more relaxing and slow paced activity, try out one of Jerusalem’s many pottery studios. With soft
music playing, and calm energy, ceramic painting is a fun way to unwind and create, especially for those
who are artistic. You can paint a cute tchatchka for your shelf, a serving dish for Shabbos, or a gift for a
friend. With many options to choose from at varying prices, it’s a wonderful activity, and great for all
ages. JClay is in Jerusalem’s center, located in Geula area. This studio specializes in Judaic products, from
models of Kever Rochel, Mezuzos, Kiddish Cups and more. For a Motzei Shabbos appointment, call to
book in advance.
Yosef Ben Matityahu St 14, Jerusalem
We hope you find this list informative and varied for whatever mood you find yourself in on Motzei
Shabbos! Luckily for us, Yerushalayim has really got it all! Enjoy your evening and Gut Voch!
Life is different around here! With just a few tips and tricks to get you on your feet, you’ll be settled in no time. Soon you may be coming up with ideas of your own!
The main thing to be aware of when it comes to spices in Israel is moisture – and bugs! I was making tomato soup one afternoon and was pretty surprised to find my onion powder…well, not powder anymore – but one big clump. You may find that your paprika or pepper sticks to the top of your spice shaker and clogs the holes. This is because there’s a lot of moisture in the air, making the spices clump together. A common trick for salt is to put a bit of dry rice into the shaker to absorb any extra moisture, but the less common trick for the rest of your spices is to keep them in the freezer. You can also keep flour or coffee in the freezer to keep it fresh and dry. This tip also helps with bugs. You might have noticed that almost every package says “mehudar to check for bugs” this is because it can be a real problem here in Israel. Thankfully, keeping easily infested ingredients in the freezer should take care of it.
This one might be self-explanatory, but it is a big deal here in Israel! So many more products come in bags! Besides the regular sugar and flour, you are going to be buying croutons, vanilla sugar, baking soda, and many of your food products in bags as opposed to plastic containers. This tends to get frustrating when you only want to use half a pack of baking powder, or when you want fresh crunchy croutons! Baggie clips are sold in Yesh, or any home goods store and will really save you. I would suggest buying a big pack (or two!) and keep them with your plasticware to have around. This will also save you from moisture and bugs.
The same problem can be avoided by buying (or keeping) containers for your ingredients. Open all your powders into one small container for easy scooping, and keep a large one for flour or oats.
Moisture moisture moisture….
I promise to stop talking about it after this one, but moisture…can cause mold! Many couples are surprised to find mold in their apartment, and even want to move. Unfortunately, moving is not going to solve this one. Most people struggle with mold and it’s something you need to learn to deal with. For starters, always try to keep some windows open. Make sure your rooms have time to air out. Next, you can buy some mold spray that is fairly easy to use. Just spray some around and wipe the affected area with a cloth. This spray is called “masir ovesh” or mildew stain remover and can be found near the regular cleaning products. Lastly, you can hire someone to come to take care of it for you, (or beg your Baal Dira to take care of it…). Click here for our recommendation!
Potatoes and Root Vegetables
I’ve heard many a girl on the local nshei chat complain about potato storage. While on the east coast it may be no problem to keep potatoes and onions in a dark drawer or cabinet, many find that this just doesn’t work as well here in Israel. The vegetables go bad too fast and start to smell really quickly. Most people try to settle for a basket, which helps a little, but I’ve taken it one step further. I got some metal wire baskets (found in max stock or the like) which I hung on my wall. I’ve seen this before and I love the idea as well as the look! This way you can see which veggies you have very easily, and spot them before they go bad. You can never leave a sweet potato behind a drawer or in the back of a cabinet for a morose husband to clean up, and the best part is they stay fresh for longer! I also happen to love the look of the natural earthy tones hanging in my kitchen and get many compliments on these baskets. You can do this with wood baskets, metal wire, or anything else you can think of.
Getting Challah to Rise
Some people get nervous to try their mother’s famous challah recipe on this side of the ocean. Often it turns out just fine, but sometimes those fears are founded. I have another article here on Live Your BIL about cooking and baking, so definitely go check that out if this interests you, but here are the rules of rising. In order for yeast to proof, you need to have a warm environment. In the summer you should have no issue at all because it’s definitely warm enough! In the winter it’s harder though because the cold seeps in, and it’s hard to avoid that with Israeli apartments. I’ve definitely thrown out two or three batches of yeast in a row because I didn’t realize I had a temperature issue. This can be fixed easily. Preheat your oven before you start your challah. When you’re ready for the yeast to proof, turn off the oven, and place the bowl on the open oven door for five minutes. Some people keep their whole dough in a warm oven for a better rise in the winter season as well. Btei’avon!
Another common issue the masses deal with is ants! By the thousands! No matter how clean you think you are, you may be infested with these little guys. Luckily, many families before you figured out how to deal with them. It’s good to know that keeping clean, putting away, and sealing all food will really make a difference. First, you have to find where the ants are coming in from to see if you can seal it up – that’s already half the issue! Next, regular “juke” spray can usually do the trick. Spray some standard bug spray around the areas they come from and they may be gone for good. Lastly, if sealing and spraying didn’t work you can go for the stronger stuff – poison. You can buy ant poison in Yesh, Olam Habayit, or similar shops. The ants take a bit of poison back to their home and it kills them all. Obviously, be very careful not to use this when kids are crawling around or eating off the floor.
So here you have it- my best tips and tricks to tackle the issues that seem to be more common here in Israel. Feel free to customize them to make them work for you. Found the best bag clips? Have a great idea to keep the ants away? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org