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Winter holiday celebrations in Jaffa

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

The "shared society" branch of the HaNoar HaOved youth movement in Jaffa was busy this holiday season!

Teens from the branch volunteered during Hanukkah at a local nursing home, visiting residents and brightening up the holiday celebrations. Together with residents, they painted a mural on one of the walls at the center and led the Hanukkah candle lighting with plenty of songs and good spirits.

But Hanukkah isn't the only winter holiday celebrated by Jaffa’s residents. As participants at the youth movement’s "shared society" branch, the Jewish and Arab teens knew the importance of creating a shared celebration which would help everyone learn about the rich diversity of religions and cultures in their neighborhood.

Jewish and Arab youth came together to celebrate their winter holidays

About 50 local youth came together for a special night to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas and Novy God, the Russian New Year’s holiday. The event featured different stations where kids played trivia games to learn about the different holidays and their customs, mini sports competitions, and lots of other fun games. Many of the stations were run by the branch’s junior counselors, themselves both Arabs and Jews who serve as a powerful example for the younger participants of the ability to learn from one another and work together.

The junior counselors met up many times throughout their school break to prepare decorations, help plan activities, and make sure every last detail was thought of. The branch’s director, Keren, was surprised at the long hours they were putting in and asked them what was they were up to.

The junior counselors worked hard to make sure that the kids had fun and that all cultures were represented.

They replied, “We want to make sure that all of the younger kids have a great time at the event - It’s our responsibility!” Keren said that it is a big deal for the junior counselors to be putting in so much time over their school holiday, and that she is very proud to see them stepping up as leaders.

The teens learned a lot and had fun celebrating together!

One of the night’s highlights was the cotton candy machine, where the kids could swing by between games and activities to grab a sticky, sweet treat! The event concluded with a ceremony to light the Hanukkah candles and decorate the traditional ‘Yolka’ tree for Novy God.

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