Follow in the Footsteps of the Maccabim: Your High Energy Chanukah Travel Guide

Chanukah 5779 is quickly approaching!


Kids will be out of school for six days! Expecting fun.


Family is staying with you. Requesting meaningful tours.


Friends want to meet up. Craving awesome food.


You will be ready.

Make Memories this Chanukah — Here are six itineraries that will keep you aglow!

Chanukah Themed ✅Fun ✅Delicious ✅Family Friendly ✅High Energy ✅

Let’s Recap — What Are We Celebrating?

During the Seleucid period (2nd century BCE), we, the Jewish people were forced to adopt the foreign customs of the ruling dynasty, going against our, Jewish tradition.

Our ancestors revolted when King Antiochus IV installed a statue in the Beit Hamikdash. The leaders of the rebellion, the Maccabim, liberated Jerusalem from foreign rule.

The Maccabean revolt and victory are recorded in a few early historical sources, most notably the Book Of Maccabees and Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews.

Tuesday, 26 Kislev/ December 4: Find the Menorah

מאי חנוכה דתנו רבנן בכ”ה בכסליו יומי דחנוכה … ולא היה בו אלא להדליק יום אחד נעשה בו נס והדליקו ממנו שמונה ימים לשנה אחרת קבעום ועשאום ימים טובים בהלל והודאה

מסכת שבת כא

The Gemara asks: What is Hanukkah, and why are lights kindled on Hanukkah? … The Gemara answers: The Sages taught in Megillat Ta’anit: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the days of Hanukkah are eight. A miracle occurred, and they lit the candelabrum from it eight days. The next year the Sages instituted those days and made them holidays with recitation of Hallel and special thanksgiving in prayer and blessings.

Masechet Shabbat 21

Morning: The Knesset

Find the Knesset Menorah.

Did You Know?

The Golden Menorah is over 4.30 meters high, 3.5 meters wide, and weighs 4 tons.

Gifted by the British Parliament in honor of Israel’s eighth anniversary of independence.

Designed by Benno Elkan, the menorah is etched with pictures depicting the suffering and exile of the Jewish people.  The engravings along the center branch illustrate the miraculous return of the Jewish people and the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

Mid Morning: Ein Yael

Design your own menorah at Ein Yael.

Did You Know?

You can sharpen your bow and arrow skills and more at a workshop, part of Ein Yael’s special Chanukah happening.

Lunch: Crave Gourmet Street Food

Afternoon: Arab Shuk

Find the ancient (oil lamps) menorahs, in the Old City’s Arab shuk.

Evening: Jewish Quarter, Old City of Jerusalem

Did You Know?

The Golden Menorah is two meters in height and plated with 43 kg (95 lbs) of gold.

The Temple Institute designed the menorah, based on Academic and Biblical research, and intend on using this Menorah, in the Third Temple.

Dinner: Eucalyptus

Wednesday, 27 Kislev/ December 5: Miraculous Victory

ויאמר יהודה: נקל כי יְסֻגְרוּ רבים בידי מעטים, ואין מעצור לפני שמים להושיע ברבים  או במעטים. כי לא ברב-חיל נצחון המלחמה, ומן השמים הגבורה.

ספר המכבים 1 פרק יח:יח–יט–

Unto whom Judas answered, It is no hard matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude, or a small company. For the victory of battle standeth not in the multitude of an host; but strength cometh from heaven.

Book of Maccabees 18-19

Morning: Bnei Darom Visitor’s Center of Olives and Olive Oil

Appreciate the Maccabean miracle, with a visit to Bnei Darom.

View the oil press. Sample the unique flavors. Learn about the history of Bnei Darom.

Mid Morning: Nir Galim Museum

Internalize the more modern miraculous revolt, at the museum’s exhibition “Glass House.”

Did You Know?

The exhibition highlights the incredible rescue operation that helped save over 40,000 Budapest Jews in 1944 and 1945.

Lunch: Nameste

Afternoon: Park Ashdod Yam

Pack dinner.  Your kids will love running around the large park and archeological site of Ashdod Yam.

Did You Know?

The city of Ashdod is referenced a few times in the Torah.

In The Book of Maccabees 1, the city is referred to as Azotus, the Greek name of the town. In Ashdod, the Maccabi brothers, Yehuda and Yonatan successfully revolted and purified the city from the pagan temple of Dagon.

Thursday, 28 Kislev/ December 6: Elephant Day

ויהי בנסוע יהודה לקראתם ויך שש מאות איש ממחנה המלך לפי חרב. וירא אלעזר החורני והנה חיה אחת חגורה ביתר שאת וגדולה מן האחרות ויאמר בלבו אכן המלךוירוץ כגיבור בתוך גדודי האויב וחרבו אכלה בשר ימין ושמאל. וישלך את נפשו ויבוא עד הפיל ויכרע בין ברכיו וידקרהו, וייפול הפיל עליו וימות, ובנפלו המית גם אותו. מנגד למען הציל את עמו ולעשות לו שם עולם בארץ .עליה.

ספר המכבים 1 פרק ו:מח–ל

Then Judas and his host drew near and entered into battle, and there were slain of the king’s army six hundred men. Eleazar also, surnamed Savaran, perceiving that one of the beasts, armed with royal harness, was higher than all the rest, and supposing that the king was upon him, Put himself in jeopardy, to the end he might deliver his people, and get him a perpetual name: Wherefore he ran upon him courageously through the midst of the battle, slaying on the right hand and on the left, so that they were divided from him on both sides. Which done, he crept under the elephant, and thrust him under, and slew him: whereupon the elephant fell down upon him, and there he died.
-Book Of Maccabees 1 Chapter 6: 48–51

Morning: Jerusalem Zoo

Feed and help train the elephants at the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem. Just try and be a little more careful than Eleazar.

Did You Know?

The zoo opened up a new exhibit “Exciting Moments in the Zoo,” which includes interactive virtual games, musical performances and special workshops with animal trainers.

Lunch: Cadita

Afternoon: Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park

Explore the archeological site at Bet Guvrin- Maresha National Park, with caves dating back from the Hellenistic period.

View the Byzantine era mosaics depicting images of birds and animals. Can you spot the elephant?

Did You Know?

During the Maccabean Revolt, the area of Maresha was used as a base to attack Judea. In 112 BCE, the Hasmonean king, John Hyrcanus I, captured and destroyed Maresha. The area remained under Hasmonean control until the year 40 BCE.

During an excavation of the area in 1898, archeologists discovered the ancient and fortified Hellenistic city.

The Maresha caves contain reconstructed olive presses, aviaries, and water cisterns.

Evening: Biblical Museum of Natural History

Schedule your tour of the Biblical Museum of Natural History, in Beit Shemesh. Discover the role of elephants and other animals in the story of Chanukah.

Dinner: Pichonka

Friday, 29 Kislev/ December 7: Modi’in – The Hometown of the Maccabim and High Energy Mom!

בימים ההם היה כהן בישראל ושמו מתתיהו בן יוחנן בן שמעון מבני יהויריב  בירושלים והוא יושב בהר מודעית.

In those days arose Mattathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem, and dwelt in Modi’n.

Book Of Maccabees 2:1

Early Morning: Givat Hatitora

Watch Margalit’s Virtual Tour at Givat Titora.

Morning: Sklar Levy Gallery

Watch my interview with gallery owner and curator, Audrey Sklar Levy.

Lunch: Jem’s Beer Factory

Early Afternoon: Hasadna

Explore the unique, creative, and fun workshops available at the studio.

Late Afternoon: Ayala Dagan Chocolate Workshop

Using traditional Belgian and French production methods, make your own pralines and chocolate, during a chocolate workshop.

Kabbalat Shabbat: The Ancient Synagogue of Umm El Umdan

Daven Kabbalat Shabbat, at the site of the ancient Maccabean synagogue, in Umm El Umdann. Is this really the ancient Modi’in?

Sunday, 1 Tevet/ December 9: Jewish Hellenists

“In those days there emerged in Israel lawless men [Jewish Hellenists] who persuaded many, saying, ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the nations that are around us; for since we separated ourselves from them, many evils have come upon us’” (I Maccabees 1:11).

Early Morning: The Banyas

The Banyas National Park includes the excavated and restored archeological remains, combines the natural beauty of cliffs, mountains, forest and an abundance of flowing water.

Did You Know?

Banyas was named for the Greek god, Pan,  worshipped by the Hellenists in the region. Remains of the temple built by King Herod to the god Pan can be found at the front of the cave.

Banyas served as the location of the battle between the Seleucid Greeks and the Ptolemais Greeks. The victory of the Seleucid Greeks empowered Antiochus and his dynasty and led to the Maccabean revolt.

Mid Morning: Hamat Gader

Luxuriate in the natural springs at Hamat Gadar, in the Yarmouk River valley, near the Sea of Galilee.

Entertain your kids at the petting zoo, mini wildlife preserve and the crocodile farm, home to more than  200 species of crocodiles.

Did You Know?

Throughout the year, the temperature of the thermal springs remains 42 degrees Celsius.

Many ancient rabbinical figures and prominent Greek and Roman historians and philosophers spent time in the springs’ calming waters. Long reported to having a healing effect on the body.

Lunch: Mama Mia

Share a Greek salad, lasagna, pizza, and or soups at this quaint dairy cafe.

Afternoon: National Park Hippos (SUSITA)

Located, two kilometers east of the Sea of Galilee is the archeological site,  of  the National Park Hippos- Sussita of the Decapolis.

Did You Know?

In ancient Greek, the word Hippos translates to “a horse.” Between the 3rd century BC and the 7th century CE, Hippos was the site of a Greco-Roman city, the ancient town of Hippos-Sussita of the Decapolis (Antiochia Hippos).

Evening: Beit She’an National Park

You won’t want to miss the Chanukah Happening, a sound and light show entitled  “Beit She’an Nights.”

Did You Know?

Considered to be one of the world’s most significant archaeological sites. Beit She’an National Park features an entire Roman-Byzantine city, dating back to fifth century BC, including the restored ruins of the 7,000-seat Roman theater, Byzantine bathhouse, decorative fountain, colonnaded streets, and gladiator amphitheater.

Dinner: Decks Restaurant

Monday, 2 Tevet/ December 10: Alexander Yannai

So after he had prayed to God to give them the victory, he joined battel with the enemy. Of whom he overthrew many: and as he saw Bacchides coming up boldly to him, he stretched out his right hand to smite him: but the other foreseeing and avoiding his stroke, Jonathan with his companions leaped into the river, and swam over it; and by that means escaped beyond Jordan: while the enemy did not pass over that river:

Josephus- Book Of Antiquities Book 13

Morning: Nahal Alexander

Watch enormous soft-shelled turtles swimming in the newly clean and restored waters of the Alexander stream.

Did You Know?

Nahal Alexander is named for Alexander Yannai, the great-grandson of Mattityahu, who expanded the Jewish kingdom by conquering the coastal area to the north of the stream.

Lunch: Brisket Bar

Afternoon: Beit Yanai Beach

One of the best beaches in Israel, with a great breeze for kitesurfing, surfing, and waterskiing. The beach is maintained by the Israel Parks and Nature Authority, and the modern facilities are kept clean.

Evening: Alexander Brewery

Arrange a tour and tasting (before five pm) at the boutique brewery, focused on the quality and freshness of the beer, its taste, and smell.

Did You Know?

At the Alexander Brewery, beer is produced in small quantities enabling full quality control. Modern equipment ensures maximum accuracy and quality.

Dinner: Sara’s Place

You won’t be disappointed with the generous portions and reasonable prices at this American style diner.

You’re Ready!

Get ready for a High Energy Chanukah.

Have fun with your kids!

Experience meaningful tours with your family.

Meet up at excellent eateries with your foodie friends.

Follow in the footsteps of the Maccabim.

Chanukah Sameach!

Which places have you visited?

Thanks, Margalit Frydman of Margalit Tours for these excellent Chanukah travel ideas! Looking forward to six days full of fun, memorable, meaningful trips! Any chance, you are free to guide us?

Click here to book your next travel experience with Margalit. Or call Margalit at  972-544844913

Are you a high energy mom? Planning high energy happenings?

Let’s chat! High Energy Mom covers everything in Modi’in from lifestyle, family, real estate and local news.

Follow High Energy Mom:

If you have a scoop to share with High Energy Mom, hit me up on facebook or twitter or shoot me an email

With Margalit Frydman of Margalitours.

About the Author
Yocheved Pianko Feinerman is the High Energy Mom, “leaning in” and embracing the harmony and chaos of raising four “spirited” children, juggling an active career as an educator, and writer while planning the next 24-hour getaway with her husband. Read more on her blog
Related Topics
Related Posts