You just can’t get truly greasy, fresh out-of-the-oven hot sufganiyot in America.
According to an unscientific survey of Israelis who were at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville one Monday afternoon, the donuts sold here for Chanukah are just jelly donuts and nothing more. The sufganiyot sold in Israel can be found everywhere and are a taste to behold, and apparently are missed no matter how many years an Israeli lives in America.
“In Israel, the sufganiyot are warm. They are being taken so quickly when they are still warm,” said Orit of Rockville, who didn’t want her last name mentioned. She also misses close family and friends as she used to light each new candle with a different family when she lived in Israel.
“I miss the sufganiyot. They are good [here], but I need to drive to it. In Israel, they are everywhere,” said Einat of Olney, who didn’t want her last name mentioned. However, she said, “I like the lights here. These holiday lights I like, but it’s not for my holiday,” she said.
Orit Almagor of Potomac said the celebration wasn’t all that different here in the United States, but there were “maybe less calories” since donuts aren’t everywhere you go.
Amit of Rockville, who didn’t want her last name mentioned, said the variety of holiday songs is so much better in Israel. “The dreidel song, that’s ridiculous, and it’s not made out of clay,” she said. “The whole holiday spirit is felt a lot more in Israel. It is a time to be with family.”
Israel offers more children’s shows and Chanukah-oriented events, noted Gil Naveh of Rockville.
Celebrating isn’t that different in America, said Chen Kane of Silver Spring. However, he likes spending it in Israel since I “prefer to do it with my extended family.”
Doron Tamir of Gaithersburg believes Chanukah in America is very different than in Israel. “Here you can make it bigger than it actually is. They are trying to make it easier for the kids to deal with the fact that their friends get more presents” for Christmas, Tamir said. The first year he was in America, “I was like, ‘You mean they get a present everyday?’ That was a big shock.”
Quite simply, “Chanukah is beautiful anywhere. It’s the lights,” said Sara Pondak of Rockville. “Even though Christmas is more with the tree and all, the Jewish people have the traditions,” she said.
Tamar Yheiam of Rockville matter-of-factly summed up her feelings, “It’s better in Israel, because you feel it more, just like all the holidays.“
In America, “you feel Christmas more than Chanukah,” added Rachel of Rockville, who didn’t want her last name mentioned.
To Rabbi Shlomo Beitsh of the Chabad Israel Center of Rockville, Chanukah is Chanukah no matter where a Jewish person happens to be. “We can bring the lights of Chanukah wherever we are.”