By Chanukah your kids will speak Hebrew

That’s what “they” said. Everyone we spoke to before we came, told us that our kids would be speaking Hebrew by Chanukah.
They lied!
It’s the second night of Chanukah, and my kids do not speak Hebrew.
Neither does my husband. Although he starts ulpan right after Chanukah, because I told him that I absolutely refuse to be his personal translator for the rest of our lives… (And also because we now have a car, which makes getting to ulpan outside of Rehovot more feasible).

What is it about Chanukah in Israel? Well, there’s a lot to be said for celebrating a holiday in the place where the original holiday events happened. Imagine if we were able to celebrate Shavuot at Har Sinai? or Succot in the dessert? (Okay, maybe not…)

Chanukah happened, a twenty minute drive from where I live right now, just down the road from here! How awesome is that? Here we are, a couple thousand years later, in the same place, celebrating victory over the Greeks, and the miracle of the little jug of oil that lasted 8 days.

And then there’s the sufganiyot (doughnuts). Frequently, the word “sufganiya” is translated as “jelly doughnut”, but if you have ever spent Chanukah in Israel, you know that the jelly doughnuts are kind of on the bottom of the hierarchy of Chanukah doughnuts. Gourmet sufganiyot – with creme brulee, butterscotch, caramel, dulce de leche, Irish cream, all kinds of chocolate, pistachio, pretzel, banana, the list goes on and on and on. I have given myself the difficult task of hitting as many bakeries as possible over Chanukah, to sample as many varieties of sufganiyot as I can get my hands on. I have yet to meet one that I don’t like…


Back to the kids. While they are not yet conversing in fluent Hebrew, each of the kids has come a long way. They have all taken tests in various subjects (math, science, Torah, Gemara, Mishnah) in Hebrew and scored incredibly well (a couple of 100% grades even!). They all manage to communicate with their peers in school, and with their teachers, who do not all speak English. The older two even manage to use WhatsApp in Hebrew, and the youngest has been heard singing in the shower in Hebrew. So perhaps it’s a long shot to say “by Chanukah your kids will speak Hebrew”, but without a doubt, by Chanukah your kids will understand a lot more Hebrew than when they first arrived. And they’re happy, they’re all so happy, because Israel is a country where kids can be kids, and kids can be independent, something that doesn’t exist in too many places anymore.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brownsugarjew22
    Dec 19, 2014 @ 16:19:58

    Mazel Tov ! I am making aliyah 2016. I’m getting a jump up on my hebrew. Where are you? I’m thinking of going to Hadera


  2. tovarena
    Dec 22, 2014 @ 16:12:26

    We weren’t sure what to expect since we came a few weeks into the school year. And of course, with last year’s chanukah being so incredibly early, we for sure had no expectations. Good thing because ours also were not fluent, or really even close to it by chanukah. But by purim, they were requesting playdates with their Hebrew speaking gan-mates. And by pesach they were playing fully in Hebrew – even at home with each other. Now, just a little over a year in, both of their teachers continue to be surprised that they’re not native Hebrew speakers. DD has been put into an advanced reading class even. It just kinda happens when you’re not looking for it. Glad your crew is settling in as well. Sounds like they’ve transitioned pretty well!


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